Moving on up, Part 2: How Seattle women build careers through community

by Quinten Dol
April 24, 2019

As the technology industry matures, it has become apparent that diverse teams that reflect the wider community possess inherent advantages. Seattle’s large pool of talented tech professionals — nourished by business-friendly governance, attractive standards of living, world-renowned computer science college degrees and two notable tech giants — have found the perfect environment to advance their careers.

Hundreds of communities, support groups and professional meetups now fill bars, coffee shops and conference rooms across Puget Sound each weeknight. In part two of a two-part series about how women in the Seattle tech industry leverage community to advance their careers, we learned how the Emerald City has helped professionals at four local tech companies — from engineering newbies to Bay Area veterans — take their next step.

 

Catch up on Part OneHow Seattle women build their community in the local tech scene

 

liquidplanner seattle tech startup women in tech
photo via liquidplanner

LiquidPlanner takes white collar workflow management software to the next level, offering schedules that automatically adapt as resources shift or priorities change, reports to show which team members have time on their hands to help out, cross-project visibility tools, integrated and automated timesheet functionality and more. Founded in 2006, the Eastlake-based company has raised over $17 million in funding between 2008 and 2018.

VP of Product Jen Morrissey co-hosts a customer success meetup in Seattle, and credits her mentors with helping her to reach a leadership role at LiquidPlanner.

 

What do you think makes Seattle unique as a city for women in tech?

I see Seattle as a mecca for opportunity in tech that draws bright, driven people to our beautifully rainy city. Though it is growing every day, Seattle has kept its small-city feel in many ways, and the people in it have a desire to connect and give back to their community. As a result, Seattle is full of inspiring women looking to do great things at their companies, in their careers and for the community, and who are open and eager to supporting other women in their unique journey. From my first college internship to my current leadership role at LiquidPlanner, I’ve been blessed with strong women mentors along the way who have helped me grow my confidence as a woman in technology. These mentors encouraged me to think differently and to take on new challenges, and I attribute much of my growth to the supportive network of remarkable women I have around me here in Seattle.

I have found programs like Program For Early Parent Support (PEPS) to be a wonderful way to connect with other working parents to discuss balancing family and career.”

 

Are there any local or company programs, networking events, or spaces that have helped you navigate your career?

There are many organizations and events that have inspired me in my career — Startup Week, Women in Tech and The Riveter are just a few! I’ve also had the opportunity to give back by co-hosting a customer success meetup here in Seattle, which is all about bringing people together to build a community and mindshare. Watching customer success professionals connect and build relationships through this meetup has been incredibly rewarding! And just over two years ago I went from being a “woman in tech” to a “mom in tech.” I have found programs like Program For Early Parent Support (PEPS) to be a wonderful way to connect with other working parents to discuss balancing family and career.

 

eagleview technologies bellevue startup women in tech
photo via eagleview technologies

Since 2008, EagleView has amassed a huge database of aerial images taken from aircraft. By feeding them through its machine learning and computer vision algorithms, the company can provide governments, contractors and insurance companies with detailed data relevant to their work based on its roof measurements. Today, they assist these parties with everything from assessing properties for damage after a disaster to tracking solar panel adoption to planning emergency response procedures.

Director of Data Science Dr. Shay Strong said Seattle’s universities are a great source of pride and homegrown tech talent, while VP of Marketing Communications Kim Boeh pointed to the city’s high standard of living as a key draw for professionals of all genders.

 

What do you think makes Seattle unique as a city for women in tech?

Boeh: Seattle is one of the most vibrant technology hubs in the country, and it offers fantastic opportunities to women at all stages of their career, whether they’re fresh out of college, aggressively climbing the corporate ladder or looking to give back to their community. Tech companies are plentiful and many have formalized mentoring programs for female talent. As a working mother, I really appreciate the livability of Seattle and the Eastside. In comparison to the Bay Area, where I lived previously, I have found it easier to juggle a hectic meeting schedule and still make my children’s volleyball and soccer practices. The quality of the schools is also excellent.

I have been super encouraged with the enthusiasm and engagement of the Seattle area’s university communities.”

 

Are there any local or company programs, networking events, or spaces that have helped you navigate your career?

Strong: I have been super encouraged with the enthusiasm and engagement of the Seattle area’s university communities. We have a hotbed of talent and I am always excited and proud to present work or give lectures at local colleges, as there seems to be a thirst for industry application in geospatial and machine learning work. Also, when I share that my machine learning and data science team is largely women, there is also significant excitement there. I feel that the future Seattle tech community — as shaped by local students — is passionate about what our organization brings and is becoming.

 

 

accolade seattle tech startup healthtech women in tech
photo via accolade

Accolade looks at the streamlined customer service models developing in fields as diverse as music, books and banking and thinks, “Why not healthcare benefits?” The company connects a wide swath of personal health data and programs through a single online portal, with the goal of providing quick and effective access to health and employee benefits resources. The company also connects users with advisors and clinical experts.

Director of User Experience Christine Eng says she has found enormous value in a host of local events and organizations dedicated to her field.

 

What do you think makes Seattle unique as a city for women in tech?

Seattle (and the West Coast in general) is more progressive than where I grew up in the Midwest. That kind of mindset contributes to a more welcoming atmosphere for women in a traditionally male-dominated field. Seattle is also a huge tech hub, with lots of resources to hone your knowledge and skills, and grow your network. I am lucky to have so many meetups, seminars and conferences available in my own backyard.

It has been extremely helpful to have smart women in my field at my level to go to for advice.”

 

Are there any local or company programs, networking events, or spaces that have helped you navigate your career?

I have gained a ton of value out of the local Lean In chapter events. They are always well organized and bring a lot of smart professional women together to network and learn how to advance in their careers. I am also involved in the local Hexagon chapter, which caters to women in UX. They organize mentorship programs that help match mentors to mentees. They also helped organize a peer mentorship program for senior-level UX professionals that I participate in now. It has been extremely helpful to have smart women in my field at my level to go to for advice.

 

jetclosing seattle tech startup women in tech
photo via jetclosing

While many tech startups focus on starting the process of buying or selling a home, JetClosing helps users finish it. The company automates and digitizes the reams of paperwork and exacting bureaucracy that tend to accompany the closure of a real estate transaction. Headquartered in downtown Seattle, JetClosing has raised over $23 million to date.

Software Engineer Anna Kuznetsova found a coding bootcamp through a local women’s Facebook group, and used her training to gain an internship — and then a full time job — at JetClosing.

 

What do you think makes Seattle unique as a city for women in tech?

There are plenty of meetup events in Seattle for people of any gender who are interested in programming, including New Tech Job Fair, Downtown Seattle Tech Crawl, Pioneer Square Tech Crawl events, and others. I also know two Facebook groups — “Seattle Girl Geek Dinners” and “Back to Work: Seattle International Women” — with tons of useful information there. Microsoft’s LEAP program offers a four-month paid apprenticeship for boot camp alumnae without a computer science degree degree, created specifically to help minorities get into the profession. And a lot of tech companies — including JetClosing — participate in internship programs giving students the opportunity to gain experience on real-world projects.

The company’s atmosphere is so welcoming and friendly, people are very supportive, and they are glad to share their knowledge.”

 

Are there any local or company programs, networking events, or spaces that have helped you navigate your career?

I have found a lot of useful information in the Facebook group “Back to Work: Seattle International Women.” It’s useful for women with gaps in their career, recent immigrants and those who want to start new careers in tech, providing information about coding boot camps like Epicodus, which I attended. After completing a five-month coding program I was extremely lucky to get a five-week internship at JetClosing. The company’s atmosphere is so welcoming and friendly, people are very supportive, and they are glad to share their knowledge. The internship gave me an understanding of what real programming is, an awareness that I needed to study more — and that I really like the field.

 

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