Data Driven Women… and Allies!

Will Nixon Written by Will Nixon, May 17, 2018

Recently I attended the Data Driven Women Meetup event hosted by AdRoll Group, and felt inspired to share this blog post, from a man’s perspective. I heard of the event through my work (AdRoll Group) and after reading up on the event details, I realized four of my women colleagues were the featured speakers. It was at that time I remember thinking, “I should really go to support them.”

Admittedly, I wasn’t even sure if men were allowed to attend, thinking it might just be a women only thing… wrong! I reached out to one of my colleagues just to make sure and she quickly debunked my ill conceived thought process by letting me know that men were not only invited, but encouraged to attend.

The event started out like most meetups with music, drinks, snacks, and networking. There was a very inviting feel to the room, with couches and tables set up to create a comfortable environment where people could sit, talk and listen to the featured speakers. The space filled up quickly and I noticed that I was not the only man in room; there were also quite a few of our male coworkers in attendance. During the networking portion of the evening, there were working sessions where attendees could get tips on crafting their resumes, interviewing, and other career advice from a wide range of women (and men) in varying levels of seniority from different companies. These sesions were sponsored by Alberts List, cybersn and hirepool.

The featured speakers for the evening included a few of the female leaders on the Product and Engineering teams here at AdRoll Group:

Kelly Eng, Senior Product Manager


Julie Zhou, Director of Product


Jessica Grist, Senior Software Engineer


Miriam Pena, Staff Engineer


Throughout the evening each speaker shared her own unique story and experience of how she broke into her career and current role, amidst what is still today a male-dominated industry. As each of my coworkers told their story, it helped me to understand what motivated them to pursue their own career in tech, the approaches and paths they each took to navigate the course, as well as the personal and political challenges they faced along the way. Although each experience and path was different, I noticed a few themes emerge.

1.)Overcoming fear- Whether it was fear of changing careers later in life, stepping into a lead role for the first time, applying for a position with non-traditional experience, or even public speaking, it was inspiring to hear each speaker talk openly about their own fears, which as a society we often consider to be vulnerability or weakness. It’s only after we expose our fears for what they are that we can then start to make strides towards overcoming them to become stronger and more confident.

2.)The importance of aligning yourself with the right mentors and/or allies - This could come in the shape of an all female coding bootcamp, a strength training coach, a male coworker willing to push you, or retracing the steps of early engineering languages to find that strong females were a big part of the early history of tech.

3.)The importance of using your voice to help other women - Not only women currently or soon to be in the job market, but also the young women of the world who are dreaming about what they want to be when they grow up. We all know the power and encouragement that comes with being able to self-identify with someone who is accomplished in a particular field of interest. It’s infectious! Point being, we need more female leaders in tech to help show the future generations of ambitious women that tech is a career they, too, can pursue.

I’ve always had a deep rooted respect and support for women, but after attending this event I have gained a newfound appreciation for not only my coworkers, but also the need for further support from male allies and industry leaders to make sure the tech industry is a place where people from all backgrounds feel welcome.

You can watch the recording here:

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