The Benefits of Fostering Community as a Woman in Tech

Whether it’s mentorship or joining an employee resource group, fostering a community can make it easier to tackle the numerous challenges women in tech face.

Written by Michael Hines
Published on Dec. 11, 2023
The Benefits of Fostering Community as a Woman in Tech
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Jacqueline Hang has been building community among her fellow women in tech since her first college computer science class, which was dominated by men. Rather than be intimidated, Hang took action and formed a study group with the other women in the class.

“We built a support system that empowered us to complete our first semester, thrive in our studies and graduate with computer science degrees,” said Hang.

This was Hang’s first introduction to the power and necessity of fostering community as a woman in tech. It wouldn’t be her last, though, as Hang continues to bring women together at Zocdoc, where she works as a software engineer and is part of the Women in Technology employee resource group.

Women in tech face an uphill battle when it comes to receiving recognition for their work, moving into leadership roles, being paid what they deserve — the list goes on. As Hang’s experience proves, though, they don’t have to face these challenges alone. Continue reading to learn more about Hang’s story as well as the experiences of two other local women in tech who have made it their mission to foster community among the women at their companies.

 

Jacqueline Hang
Software Engineer • Zocdoc

Zocdoc is a healthtech marketplace that gives patients the power to easily find and book appointments with local doctors and specialists.

 

What source of community have you created or sought out as a woman in tech?

In my first computer science course in college, I noticed there were only five other women in the room. We started as a group of quiet individuals who were scared to contribute. I knew we needed to build a community, so that’s what we did. 

After college, I went on to start my first full-time role where my manager and I were the only women on a team of 20. She was my very first mentor and gave me more support than I could have asked for. As I outgrew that role, I knew the most important thing to find in my next role was gender diversity on my team and a women in tech community at my company. When I found Zocdoc, I knew it would be a great fit. 

My team is more than 50% women, and Zocdoc’s Women in Technology ERG has been so supportive. The community I’ve found here has given me so much, so last year I joined our leadership council to be able to spread that impact even further.

 

How have you benefited from mentorship and networking opportunities?

I always put a conscious effort into my mentorships because I find the most value in the relationships and bonds I form. We have so much to learn from each other, and I especially love talking to more experienced women in tech because they have already overcome so many of the same obstacles that I face. 

My first manager is one mentor who’s had a huge impact on me and my career. She was only my manager for a short time, but even now, more than four years later, I know I can always turn to her for solid advice. She gives me amazing guidance on anything I need from negotiating a salary to having uncomfortable conversations in the workplace. 

I truly believe that mentorship returns what you put into it. Mentors take on their roles because they are willing to help, but you also have to put in the work, take your mentor’s advice and apply it. I’ve grown so much because of my mentors, and it’s because I view myself as a sponge and absorb as much as I can!

 

What are the benefits of fostering a community of women in tech, and how does it contribute to individual and collective success?

When I entered the workforce, my experience quickly cemented the fact that the industry we’re in is more male-dominated than I thought. It was so easy to feel like I wasn’t as good as my male colleagues for no reason other than their ability to carry themselves with confidence. 

I remember the first time I shared these feelings with my manager. She gave me the validation I needed and the support to succeed in my role. I’ve always looked to other strong women in tech mentors to guide me, and in turn, I’ve tried to provide the same to others who are earlier in their careers. Imposter syndrome will most likely still come knocking on your door, but when you have women around you who uplift and reassure you, it makes it so much easier to face. 

We just want to know that we’re not alone in those feelings of doubt and that we can succeed regardless of them. Sometimes all you need to hear is, “I’ve felt that. It’s normal. You do belong here. Don’t doubt yourself!” This is why it’s so important to seek out community in your opportunities. I’m thankful to have found this community at Zocdoc in my team, the Women in Tech employee resource group and our leadership council.

 

Imposter syndrome will most likely still come knocking on your door, but when you have women around you who uplift and reassure you, it makes it so much easier to face.”

 

Hadley Riegel
Director of Global Channel Partnerships • Templafy

Companies use Templafy’s platform to automate the creation of documents.

 

What source of community have you created or sought out as a woman in tech?

I feel fortunate to serve as a pillar lead for Women in Templafy (WIT), an employee resource group that aims to promote a positive and inclusive work environment while providing opportunities for women via networking, career advancement and mentorship. 

In a globally distributed business, my involvement in WIT has been a meaningful way to work with and learn from a wide range of talented individuals and identify the collective opportunities to improve Templafy’s employer value proposition for women and beyond.

 

How have you benefited from mentorship and networking opportunities?

Talent is an organization’s single greatest asset, and unless you have the right people on the bus in the right seats, the bus is headed nowhere fast. Trusted mentor-mentee relationships can be the key to enabling a mentee to unlock their greater potential as a person and professional. 

As a leader, people manager and mentor, I have seen firsthand how mentorship can result in increased work satisfaction, psychological safety and a sense of connection — critical ingredients that lead employees to do some of their best work. Few experiences have been more rewarding than scaling what I've learned through mentorship. 

With just a few choice questions, active listening and thoughtful feedback, I was able to support a mentee’s decision to pursue an alternative role on a newly formed team, which has accelerated his growth by increasing his responsibilities. This growth didn’t just benefit clients and my mentee. It allowed the business to retain and scale a high-performing individual contributor into a high-performing manager and leader.

 

What are the benefits of fostering a community of women in tech, and how does it contribute to individual and collective success?

It is well-researched that men generally apply for a job when they meet 60% of the qualifications, whereas women apply only if they meet 100% of them. This further underscores the critical role a robust network can play in helping women develop their self-advocacy, relationships and creative approaches to framing one’s expertise to overcome perceived barriers to growth and advancement. 

Investing in and prioritizing diversity isn’t just good overall, it is good for business and decision-making as well. Fostering a broader women in tech community ensures that women have access to the support and resources necessary to aspire to and advance into leadership roles. These roles in turn can model and shape the beliefs future generations of women have about their ability to grow, lead and advance to C-Level roles, regardless of whether they tick every job “requirement.”

 

Fostering a broader women in tech community ensures that women have access to the support and resources necessary to aspire to and advance into leadership roles.”

 

Meghan Kirby
Legal Operations Specialist • Meetup

Meetup is a platform for organizing virtual and in-person group events based on shared interests.

 

What source of community have you created or sought out as a woman in tech?

I’m a co-leader of the Women of Meetup, an employee resource group that serves as a resource for the professional, personal and social advancement of employees at Meetup. The mission of Women of Meetup is to enhance women’s leadership skills, foster community and creativity, promote leadership within Meetup and provide opportunities that allow employees to thrive in a safe environment. We show up for each other to raise the visibility of women at Meetup and empower one another to reach our full potential.

 

How have you benefited from mentorship and networking opportunities?

As a member of Meetup’s legal team, I often work with our director of customer success, who also coleads the Women of Meetup group. Her mentorship has provided me with support, professional advice and invaluable guidance over the last several years of my career.

 

What are the benefits of fostering a community of women in tech, and how does it contribute to individual and collective success?

Women working in the tech industry can face gender bias, imposter syndrome, a lack of support from their male counterparts and underrepresentation at the leadership level. Creating a network of women fosters a supportive environment where members can share experiences, bond over shared interests and build skills. 

Additionally, building an active community of women in tech places junior employees in closer contact with senior employees, helping to combat proximity bias and build mentorships and relationships. Ultimately, tech companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion gain access to a broader array of perspectives and opinions.

 

Building an active community of women in tech places junior employees in closer contact with senior employees, helping to combat proximity bias.”

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Shutterstock and listed companies.

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