Virtualization Technology News and Information
Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day


International Women in Engineering Day is a global day created to raise awareness and the profiles of women in engineering by focusing attention on the countless career opportunities available to women in the industry. Many young women may have preconceived notions about the industry not being a place for them, when in reality, the possibilities are everywhere.

To help shed light on these opportunities, and to celebrate the outstanding achievements of women engineers throughout the world, we spoke with experts in the field to highlight the work they are doing. They provided insight into what it's like being a woman engineer, and how other women can help push for greater gender equality in the field by sharing their stories of how they've succeeded in their own careers.

Ruth Iverson, senior software engineer, WhiteHat Security

"In high school, I found computer programming hugely interesting and was hooked immediately. Despite that initial interest, I didn't go into computer science in college. Instead, I majored in music. That sounds like quite a different direction, but many people in the tech industry have suggested that musicians actually make good coders as they can pair an analytical, logical and disciplined mind with creativity and originality.

These days, I'm on the frontline of the development side in the application security space, with a strong focus on customer success. My team does a lot of bug hunting, and we move quickly to implement solutions for problems that can be real pain points for customers.

To be a successful coder, you need a sense of curiosity and a desire to know how things work or why they fail - even down to the smallest detail. It also helps to have a love of fixing problems and the tenacity to solve them. Most importantly, you need to be a team player.

If you like working with computers and technology, and enjoy seeing results of the code you write, go for it! Also, don't be intimidated by men in the field - it's an industry that's still male dominated, so you have to be strong enough to push when you know you are right and be sufficiently open to accept valid feedback when you are wrong or struggling. The good news is that the number of female coders is increasing each year, which is hugely inspiring. And there are strong peer support groups including Girls Who Code that organize regular meet-ups. This is a great way to meet like-minded people and build a network.

Lauren McCaslin, vulnerability verification team lead, Threat Research Center at WhiteHat Security

"As a female engineer in the cybersecurity space, I am aware that unconscious bias is always present. This refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions without us even realizing it. While diversity brings various unique perspectives that can foster more creativity and collaboration, people tend to gravitate toward likeness because it builds comfort. But homogeneous teams often under-deliver and are over-confident, while diverse teams are often under-confident but over-deliver. While it's tempting to gravitate towards people similar to you (or as a leader, to group similar people together), working with individuals from different backgrounds and genders encourages us to challenge one another and work together to identify and solve issues more rapidly.

My team, for instance, is responsible for finding dangerous vulnerabilities in companies' application code and offering advice on how to remediate it - which could be critical in preventing a major data breach. It's very high stakes, and we'd be cheating ourselves and our customers by not being inclusive and inviting all personalities and backgrounds to collaborate. Diversity is being invited to the party, and inclusion is being asked to dance. Companies can encourage this by identifying and updating company policies that may unintentionally perpetuate stereotypes, explicitly defining and sharing criteria for advancement, offering exciting assignments, and most importantly: expecting, reinforcing and rewarding intentional inclusion.

For individuals, knowing your worth and being your best advocate will help to move you forward in your career. It's important to regularly check in with superiors on your career aspirations and what it takes to get there, track your own progress, and ensure you are receiving feedback. No one will go to bat for you more frequently or effectively than you will - so be confident, go forth, and conquer."

Shilpa Narsikar, senior engineering manager, WhiteHat Security

"As a woman in engineering, who has risen up to a senior management position, I have encountered my fair share of difficult interpersonal situations while on the job. These have ranged from encouraging a frustrated engineer who is stuck on a problem while building out a product, mediating disagreements between colleagues, and even comforting someone while at work after they've received upsetting personal news.

In all of these cases, there is one invaluable skill that has helped me to handle each instance with grace, build professional connections and advance my career: empathy. Sadly, however, it is often overlooked in fast-paced businesses where individuals just want to get ahead at any cost.

A recent study found that 87 percent of CEOs see a direct link between workplace empathy and business performance, productivity, retention and general business health. In short, promoting empathy-either as an individual or as a company-actually aids in career and business success.

In my role, when I get on customer calls, empathy is a constantly useful tool. It helps to bridge the gap between the engineering/implementation side and solve real world use cases, on how our customers are using the product. The more I fully listen and understand, the easier it is for me to propose a better solution to the customers. And it helps me encourage harmony within my diverse internal teams as well. That is one ability all professionals regardless of gender, background or industry, should prioritize and work on to achieve success."

Krista Delucchi, engineering program manager, WhiteHat Security

"I enjoy working specifically as an engineering program manager because I get to help shape the digital world in which we exist, and I know that the influence provided by women creates a product that better serves its users. Working in technology has provided me with countless opportunities to witness the incredible support that women provide to one another (and to the rest of their peers), find role models in the brave, brilliant, and inspiring females around me, and learn to be a fair leader both in the workplace and in my personal life. Diversity in engineering (whether it's gender identity, race, culture, age, orientation, or any other factor that makes people wonderfully unique) directly translates to its day to day success in the field."

Kanthi Prasad, VP of engineering at WhiteHat Security

"The gender gap in the technology industry still exists. When I started working I did not expect equality, but instead started with the assumption that I have to try to work harder than people around me in order to gain equal footing. Nobody can stand up for you better than yourself, so learn how and when to verbalize what you need. Don't be the one who gets easily offended by things around you.

That does not mean it was easy, but I choose to concentrate on the long-term outcome than the short-term pain. The right mentor or sponsor in the engineering field can support and guide you through even the most difficult situations. Make time for the women in your organization to support, mentor and appreciate each other as much as possible," said Kanthi Prasad, VP of engineering for WhiteHat Security.

Joanna Hu, principal data scientist at Exabeam

"On International Women's Engineering Day, we celebrate the many strengths of women and the perspectives they bring to technology while encouraging other women and young girls to pursue their engineering passions.

As a data scientist, I've helped contribute to discoveries and solve real problems in healthcare, energy and now the cybersecurity industry. Demand for data scientists continues to rise as companies seek to learn new insights to make better decisions about everything.

But it turns out that only about 15% of data scientists are women, and women continue to be underrepresented in technical careers. I see this as an opportunity: that gap leaves a lot of room for more women in tech. For any curious young women passionate about innovation, I encourage you to pursue a career in the field.

It's important to remember that women bring a unique voice to the table. Know your worth, and don't be afraid of advancing. And no matter what roadblocks may come, never let anyone limit your potential.

During my first business trip to Asia, I was always the only woman at meetings (5-20 people). Instead of blending in, I always voiced my opinions at meetings confidently, and was not afraid to argue with men if I believed in my ideas. I explained my reasons and gave numbers and examples. I was happy to find that I was soon taken to be an expert engineer, and my ideas were implemented into the final product.

Our communities and companies need diversity in engineering roles because every person's individual background also brings a new perspective that can drive the bottom line, culture and overall success of the business. I am proud to be in the tech industry, and feel lucky to live in the information age when both women and men are given many more opportunities than before to improve the world and impact society," said Joanna Hu, principal data scientist at Exabeam.

Amber Johanson, VP, global pre-sales engineering, Zerto

"I believe women should pursue what they are passionate about, regardless of what field. Don't let obstacles keep you from pursuing your dreams, because there will always be challenges.

My first role in a leadership position, if I raised my voice, I was called emotional. It was ridiculous but it taught me that I would be held to a higher standard, that I had to be exceptionally professional. So I was. I spoke my mind, I spoke clearly, articulately and authoritatively. But most importantly, I spoke with the conviction that I deserved to have a seat at the table. I wasn't a female engineer, I was an engineer. I wasn't a female business leader, I was a business leader.  I was fortunate to have two people on my professional journey who were crucial, one a woman and one a man, who treated me as that-an engineer and a leader.

I have the benefit of 20 years in engineering leadership positions and have seen the evolution of the way gender disparity presents itself. But it does still present itself. Now when I hear something, it jars me a bit, because my expectation is to be treated as an equal.

Every day, I show up knowing that I am there to do the job I was hired to do. So that's what I do.  And that's the best advice I can provide women considering a career as an engineer: if it is your passion, pursue it. Show up every day knowing you are a capable engineer, speak clearly and definitively, and do the job you were hired to do. Set the expectation of being treated as an equal and don't accept anything less," Amber Johanson, VP global pre-sales engineering at Zerto.


Published Sunday, June 23, 2019 8:01 AM by David Marshall
There are no comments for this post.
To post a comment, you must be a registered user. Registration is free and easy! Sign up now!
<June 2019>