Why not you? — Lessons from International Women’s Day 2019

Why not you? Why not now? I felt inspired, motivated and connected.

Google’s Women Techmakers program hosts summits in celebration of International Women’s Day. These summits are a mix of speakers, workshops, and networking honoring women’s contributions in tech and the world. This year’s event hosted at Google’s Kirkland office on March 2nd had four major themes: Honest. Connected. Heard. Inspired.

Welcome Remarks | Menna El-Sadaany

Menna El-Sadaany is a Technical Program Manager at Google. Menna plays an active role in Google’s diversity efforts, and is a leader for the Women@ Google group in Seattle/Kirkland, focusing on building a strong community of women who support each other. She emphasized that the event was a safe space for everyone attending to discuss, connect and share. She also spoke about the power of community.

Be Honest: Keynote | Dawn Shaikh

Dawn is Director of UX Research at Google. Her keynote was focused on being honest and she shared very personal moments and hard lessons based on her life story. She did her Ph.D. in human factors psychology from Wichita State University. Growing up she faced many hard times including being homeless and moving from town to town. She discussed the challenges of being in a multi-racial family and didn’t fully understand what it meant.

Lesson #1: Acknowledge the behavior you want to see and start small conversations around it

Dawn was offered a position to lead teams and she was very scared. During a discussion at home, her younger daughter said:

Why not you?

Dawn realized why not and she was right!

Lesson #2: Thinking through hard truths and holding yourself accountable is very difficult. Do not do it alone. Ask for help and find allies.

She asked a co-worker to help her start getting a voice in meetings, as she was often the only woman in the room.

Lesson #3: Building inclusive teams requires you to go above and beyond in your personal growth

We have four types of people around us: helpers, organizers, allies, and radicals.

Lesson #4: Set a concrete goal today to use your privilege to empower others in our community and join the movement

Be Inspired: Leadership Lightning Talks

Lauren Celenza

Lauren is a Senior Designer at Google Maps, working with a global team to make maps more accessible and relevant for emerging cities around the world. Her dad works in the construction industry and she learned from his experiences that for a successful product you have to: Listen, Feel and Unite.

She traveled to different countries to experience navigation for motorbike riders. She listened to concerns from the riders, felt the issues first-hand, and united the different teams to build better Google maps navigation options for motorbike riders.

Ana Redmond

Ana Redmond is the Founder and CTO of infinut.com, where she designs and builds touch-screen games to teach math concepts to elementary-school children. During her journey, she had many hurdles from funding to technical challenges and she felt that was the end of her company. She told herself at every failure: This is not the End!

When you can’t plan for anything, just start building.

Rovina Broomfield

Rovina Broomfield is a Senior Product Manager at Amazon, leading a product development team within global marketing and advertising. Her team built and launched Amazon’s Textures & Hues, an online shop for textured hair care. She believes in never losing her hustle. She created a common language to talk between business and technology. She believes in empowering everyone to run their lane.

Be Connected: Community Reflections | Lajuanda M. Asemota

Lajuanda serves as the Interim Executive Director of /dev/color, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering Black software engineers to help one another grow into industry leaders. The main message from her talk was connected community is truly powerful. She quoted:

“Diversity is being asked to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” — Verna Myers

Key lessons: Ask others to dance. Equity>equality. Intersectionality is key.

Be Heard: Workshops

Workshop Track 1 | #IamRemarkable

Muazma, Beenish, and Sundas at #IamRemarkable Workshop

#IamRemarkable is a Google initiative that empowers women to celebrate their accomplishments and be comfortable to speak about them. This workshop was focused on self-promoting our accomplishments.

Read the workshop review by Sundas here.

Workshop Track 2 | Actions on Google

This workshop was focused on building actions on Google.

Other Activities

The attendees went home with Google Home mini. For badges, they could choose one or many stickers to describe themselves (with an option to make their own). There was also a headshots booth.

Badge stickers

Useful Reference Links

  • Women TechMakers
  • #IamRemarkable Website
  • Pakistani Women in Computing
  • International Women’s Day Celebration by WTM

About the Author

Muazma Zahid is a Data Engineer, a first-generation immigrant, and mother of three daughters. Muazma is passionate about Data and AI and cloud computing. She is an advocate of diversity and inclusion at the workplace and enjoys helping and empowering others. She is a member of the Seattle chapter team of Pakistani Women in Computing. She is a foodie and loves challenging herself and those around her.

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