A year of Women in Product
It’s been a little over year since I sat down in a moment of clarity and created Women in Product. I didn’t know what would happen — I wasn’t even sure how many women worked in product roles since I’d only ever worked with one. Now I know that there are thousands of us all over the world, working at a huge range of companies and facing the same challenges. To celebrate our first anniversary, I collected some thoughts, some stats, and some stories.
We are, of course, accepting new requests for membership.
Shipping software, backwards and in heels
Some trends have emerged in our many conversations with each other. We are all constantly negotiating our gender, race, and physical appearance at work. Since PMs are the de facto leaders of teams, we are often attempting to keep our behavior and our team’s perception of our behavior within a very small acceptable range: the boss but not bossy so that the men on your team don’t feel emasculated, relatable but not too friendly so that the men on your team don’t get the wrong idea and think you are flirting with them, polished but not too pretty so that the men you report to will take you seriously.
Most of us work in environments where we are the only woman or one of a few women. Even those of us who work with other women are often the only product manager. Many of us have faced the kind of clearly sexist behavior we’d all like to think we are long past. The stories that we share with each other would shock the many people (including women) who haven’t been in the position to lead teams of men.
Despite these challenges, I’m comforted when I hear from the community about how being a part of Women in Product has changed their lives. We now have a place where our tribe meets, where we can ask each other difficult questions, get feedback on a situation at work, or find a new job.
As every PM knows, you are only as good as your team.
Some quick stats
As I write this, our Slack community is over 1,277 women and we have 106 public channels. Our members are not just from San Francisco or Silicon Valley. We are from #london, #paris, #berlin, #nyc, #vancouver, #chicago, #austin, #boston, #boulder and many more cities all over the world. There are over 550 people in our #job-opportunities channel, and over 100 jobs posted on our private board.
What Women in Product means to us
I asked people to share what being in this community has meant to them: new jobs, new friends, new tools? Here is some of what they shared.
“This has been such a great, safe space to ask product career questions. It’s been a huge help for me as I’ve transitioned fully into UX & product design — and it’s produced the first book club I’ve seen that is directly relevant to improving my work.” — Rebecca Goberstein
“I have learnt so much over the last year from so many people in this group. They have inspired me, helped me with transitioning to a new job and given me the confidence to forge ahead.” — Tanvi Shah
“Seeing firsthand how active & supportive our worldwide community was via Slack notifications, it made the then far-fetched idea of moving to London much less daunting. I’d say it even expedited the process.” — Pam Hernandez
“I made the switch from Client Services to Product Management a year ago. This group provided me with tons of support for honing my tactical PM skills during the transition, as well as giving me the opportunity to observe and participate in hundreds of conversations between women solving problems, offering feedback and being general badasses. Whenever I found myself lacking — in knowledge, in skill set, in confidence — Women in Product had my back and gave me the conviction I needed to move forward.” — Veronica Sepe
“I’ve loved being able to get quick thoughts and feedback (and give back, when possible!), be it a career question or a user testing question.” — Sarah Varki
“This group fills two big gaps for me 1) constantly being inspired by badass women in the same line of work and 2) I am the only PM at my company and it can be challenging to not be constantly surrounded by other product people, this group provides an outlet to help remedy this. So thankful for this truly inspirational group.” — Sam Courtain
“Tech can be daunting and I gain a lot of confidence from having others I know I can reach out to; also, I learn a ton from the thoughtful questions, experienced answers, comprehensive posts and new ideas from so many amazing women posted on this channel.” — Nadia Barbot, who also got her job at about.me via the group
“I’ve loved the group here but I think my favorite things have really been intangible — the ability to understand I’m not alone when dealing with gendered situations or to understand how hard it can be to make a career in product has given me a resilience I don’t know I saw in myself before.” — Jessica Johnson
Thank you for joining
I’m so proud and happy to be a part of this community. It wouldn’t exist without everyone who has joined. Thank you for showing up. We got this.