Recap: Career Progression for Women in Tech

Below is a recap* of “Taking Flight: Career Progression for Women in Tech”, hosted by AirbnbEng

The stellar line up:

Anna Patterson (VP of Engineering at Google)
Tara Hernandez (Director of Systems and Build Engineering at Linden Lab)
Jessie Frazelle (Software Engineer at Google)
Lila Tretikov (Board Director at Rackspace) 
Linda Nguyen (VP of Engineering at Medisas)
Moderator: Angela Zhu (Software Engineer at Airbnb)

#1: Defining Career Progression Moments

  • Can I have a bigger impact in this industry?
  • Avoiding toxic workplaces: When you ask for feedback, are they open or defensive?
  • Linda Nguyen: If I wasn’t happy at Google, which was supposed to be the number one company, what’s wrong? At White Truffle, she got to work with a smaller team and realized she wanted to guide culture and amplify her impact.

#2: Mentorship

Build a supportive network.

  • “Women@Google builds connections between women and women. If you have 5 people you can talk to, you’re more likely to be happy” — Anna
  • “Many will want to mentor you, but not sponsor you… there are few who will voice on your behalf.” — Jessie
  • “Women don’t need as many mentors than they need advocates.” — Lila

#3: Self-Advocacy

Put yourself out there.

  • “Instead of waiting to get noticed, think of the next thing you want to achieve” — Lila
  • “Be your own advocate. And when you have your own idea, run with it.” — Jessie

Use outside networks to keep yourself in check.

  • Utilize market pressure to set expectations and gauge where you stand. “Don’t be interviewing when you have to be interviewing” — Anna
  • For recruiters, source creatively. Rid yourself of unconscious bias. Look outside. “It’s not just relying on your recruiting department… you should be looking at other places” — Tara. *A majority of Linden Lab employees are college drop-outs. She recommends bootcamps*

Leverage the global network.

  • “One of the greatest things now is that we can reach all over the world” — Lila
  • Work on projects that will provide you with a public assessment, such as Open Source.

#4: Hard Skills vs Management

Not everyone is meant to do one or the other.

  • “Do not consider climbing management the only promotion — think of it as a parallel growth to tech level promotions” — Tara
  • There are plenty of women in management who flourish. If you like working with lots of people and thinking more strategically, you should consider positions in management.

#5: Communication

Cultivate open conversations.

  • “Explicitly have career conversations.” — Tara
  • “When using your voice, know when to use it and how to use it.” — Lila
  • “Pick your battles” — Tara. Instead of reacting defensively or angrily, respond with ‘Why do you think that? What do you mean by that?’


  • “Be open to taking risks” — Lila
  • Have a constant growth mindset. Let your insatiable desire for learning act as intuition to help guide your decisions.
  • How much impact can you make where you are? How much influence do you have in your current position? Are you building a place where others are being supported?

*Note, most are direct quotes, but some comments may be paraphrased.