Women Who Reign: Marie Chatfield
Happy Wednesday Reigners! Meet Marie Chatfield, one of my engineering colleagues at Square. In addition to being a great developer, she’s quickly made her mark by being an ally for other women both inside and outside of Square. She recently rallied all of our executives to sign a pledge and set an example for the rest of the company. Read on to learn more about her and why we’re excited to see her achieve her goals and be an advocate for others!
Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I’m a software engineer at Square, where I help build tools that allow our users to manage their employees. I’m a native Houstonian, and graduated from Rice University this past May with a degree in Computer Science. In my free time, I read a lot of novels, play nerdy board games, and sing with an a cappella group at work. I care a lot about diversity in the tech industry and learning how to leverage my privilege to be a good ally.
Fun fact: Growing up, I spent all my summers on a ranch in the Texas Hill Country. I can ride a horse, drive a tractor, and hitch and pull a cattle trailer by myself. I was even crowned a rodeo queen twice!
What # would define your life journey?
Most of the best choices I’ve made have been prefaced by feelings of terror and dread. Luckily, I’ve got a lot of wonderful people in my life who encourage and challenge me. I’ve realized that I’m only satisfied when I’m growing, and I only grow when I step outside my comfort zone.
Favorite website / app:
I’ve been listening to a lot of the Ruby Rogues podcasts recently, and I love their website. The podcasts themselves are fantastic — a lot of really smart people discussing technical topics in a very accessible and engaging manner. I keep searching the backlog for episodes about diversity and inclusion, and there are some real gems. But what I appreciate the most is that all of the episodes are fully transcribed on the website. That’s helpful when I want to reference a quote, but even more importantly it makes the shows so much more accessible for a wider audience!
Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted (if any):
There are so many people that inspire me! Most recently, Alyssa Pohahau. Alyssa interviewed me when I was applying for a job at Square, which was the first time I’d ever had a technical interview with a woman. She was rocking some serious lipstick and I was so inspired. Now I get to work at the same company as Alyssa, and I can see that she’s an amazing software engineer. She also leads our WomEng group and makes a lot of effort to reach out to diverse groups of young women who are looking to enter the tech industry. Alyssa embodies the kind of engineer I want to be — making valuable technical contributions, and opening doors for others to come alongside and be recognized for their work too.
Song that makes you want to dance:
I love swing dance, and I love covers of pop songs, so I adore Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox (especially Such Great Heights). Also basically everything by Walk the Moon fills me with joy and makes me want to jump around (which gets a bit awkward at work).
Technical challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
When I began working for Square, I wasn’t familiar with the Ruby programming language (much less the Ruby on Rails framework). Luckily, my education prepared me for the challenge of learning a new language on the fly! I had experience with Python and other similar scripting languages, so most of the basic principles were familiar. But I knew I needed to understand the unique qualities of the language, so I ordered a book about Ruby and read a chapter before work every morning. I also asked my coworkers with Ruby experience a lot of questions and they responded with great explanations. I began hanging out in our Ruby channel on Slack and listening to podcasts about Ruby. I even got approval from my manager to attend RubyConf last November. Nearly six months later, Ruby is now the language that I spend the majority of my time with, and the one that I feel most comfortable writing!
This is going to sound super cheesy, but I actually have my ideal job right now. I work on challenging problems alongside some really intelligent people, who encourage me and are always willing to help me grow as a software engineer. I’m in a collaborative and transparent environment, where I feel comfortable voicing my opinions and asking questions. I contribute to a product and a company whose mission I wholeheartedly support. I’m involved in communities at work that care deeply about diversity and inclusion and supporting one another as underrepresented members of the tech community. I’m exactly where I want to be!
What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Go after the big goals, the ones that feel important but also scare you a little bit (or a lot). Surround yourself with people that will always be honest with you and encourage you to grow, and be that person for others. Own your accomplishments and take credit for your work, but don’t forget to advocate for others who don’t have the same access to opportunities as you do. And if you figure out any other great ways to reign your life, let me know too because I’m on this learning journey with you.
Originally published at reigningit.wordpress.com on January 13, 2016.