One More Time, For The Ladies
March 8, 2019
Watching the RBG documentary the same week as International Women’s Day has us feeling all of the women-power feels. In an effort to highlight a few of the bad ass babes on our team, we did a Q&A with three R\Westies that work in what are typically male-dominated fields:
Sheena Provan: Director of Interactive. Seasoned digital business leader. UX Obsessor. I’m constantly inspired and excited by the chance I get to work alongside some amazingly talented people.
Taylor Pokoj: Interactive Developer. Front end developer. Knowledge seeker. Dance floor geek! I’m a problem solver at heart and want to use the magic of technology to improve the way we connect with each other and with our world.
Casey Sperzel: Associate Director of Data Science. Perpetual student. Passionately curious. Huge nerd. I’m motivated by understanding human experiences and my expertise is in booping dogs noses.
RW: Ok, to start things off let’s talk about your day to day. What makes your work different from your male counterparts in the workplace?
Taylor: As a woman in tech, I find that I often offer a different approach to waves in the workplace – from how I communicate to my process for solving a problem, or even my perspective as a user of the products we build.
RW: And how do you see that translate to growing your own career path?
Sheena: As these softer skills like problem solving, communication and ideation are valued, I have seen more and more people come to the realization that women are suited to lead and build amazing things – not to make coffee and take notes. At the start of my career, I was often the only woman in the room so I love seeing the diversity of candidates coming out of engineering schools and how they are working their way into the workforce now.
RW: What advice would you give to some of those coming out of engineering schools and entering the workforce for the first time?
Taylor: Remember to see the value in your unique perspective, and don’t be afraid to try your own solutions or experiment. Also, make sure to take plenty of walks.
Casey: I second the need to take walks! I would also encourage them to seek out a mentor as soon as possible. Networking can be difficult, but finding the right chemistry with someone in your discipline that can provide guidance and feedback can be invaluable for navigating the industry and workplace.
RW: Sheena, you manage a number of people at our agency, what advice do you find yourself giving to team members time and time again?
Sheena: Be open, always willing to learn something new and work hard. AND don’t ever feel like you have to put others down to get ahead. We are all in it together, and we will all get there if we help each other out. Lifting someone up takes nothing away from you.
RW: Women helping other women rise – love it. Why do you think feminism has hit such a fever pitch of late?
Casey: I think seeing young, diverse women in politics and high profile positions at tech and social media companies has played a huge role in women seeing themselves in those same roles. Millennial women didn’t necessarily grow up seeing this type of female leadership, but to think about younger generations not giving it a second thought is so exciting.
Taylor: Agreed. I’ve watched the tech world continue to become a very vocal and open-sourced community that is always ready for the next best solution or idea, regardless of who it comes from. I think that the growing number of women is bringing more creative diversity to all fields of technology, and I am grateful to work in a field that values the smartest solutions above all.
RW: Talking about the growing number of lady-bosses: let’s talk about who inspires you.
Taylor: I’m inspired by people that aren’t afraid to offer an unpopular opinion or a new way of thinking about something. My creativity is fueled when someone gives me insight into a world or perspective I don’t normally work from. Keep being passionate about your own weird things !
Casey: This could be a very long list… One that I look up to is Maya Shankar – she founded the Social and Behavioral Sciences team at Google. A previous violin student of Itzhak Perlman and advisor to the United Nations, she’s built new roles for herself by proactively seeking opportunities, and advocating for people – honestly, such a badass.
RW: Thank you’s all around to this group – kicking ass and taking names day after day.