Dropbox Women’s History Month: Empowered Women, Empower Women

Women’s History month is officially in full swing and our global offices are highlighting the impact of women at Dropbox and beyond. The theme for this month is Empowered Women, Empower Women. With this theme, we not only celebrate the contributions of women in history, contemporary society, and at Dropbox, we also created a place for women to support other women, lift them up, and help them grow professionally and personally.

We spoke with JJ Kass & Erin Winkler co-leads for Women’s History Month, to discuss the theme and what it means to them.

How did you come up with the theme for the month, and how does it connect with the content that Dropboxers will see through March?

JJ: The theme for Women’s History Month this year is “Empowered Women Empower Women.” We cannot take credit for the phrase, as it’s a widely discussed topic and definitely featured on more than one sign at the Women’s March, but we were inspired by it. There are so many incredible women at Dropbox and in each of our lives, we wanted to call out how important being surrounded by empowered women is to our own individual empowerment.

Erin: Our themes from last year — “The World Needs Our Feminist Energy” and “This is Feminist Energy” — resonated within our ERG and the broader Dropbox community so strongly that we wanted to build on it. This year’s shirts are a direct reflection of that evolution from those phrases to one word: Feminist. Coming up with this year’s theme was a very iterative process that started with key ideas around the feelings we wanted to evoke for Women’s History Month. In our listening sessions and from discussions within Women@ throughout last year, we really connected to the idea of empowering women and showing strength.

What does Empowered Women, Empower Women mean to both of you?

Erin: This theme is pretty personal to me — both within Dropbox and in my life outside of work. The group of women I have partnered with through involvement in Women@ has been one of the most meaningful aspects of my work at Dropbox, and women empowering women is how I got involved with Women@. I responded to an employee survey and admitted, “I’d like to be more involved [with the ERG], but am not sure how.” With the infinite wisdom of our then co-leads of Women@, they paired me with JJ and gave us the opportunity to lead Women’s History Month last year. Building the WHM global programming across our offices and coordinating with many teams I had never worked with before allowed me to stretch and grow at work with the support and institutional knowledge of Women@. This experience really empowered me to improve Women’s History Month at Dropbox in my second year and built a friendship with my co-lead that I couldn’t have expected when I first filled out that survey.

JJ: To me, this theme is all about the importance of lifting each other up and creating space for growth. I’ve personally seen the power of this working with Women@. Whether we’re brainstorming ways to make Dropbox a more inclusive place to work or planning an event for the office, we challenge each other, push the limits of ideas, rally last minute to help each other, and encourage involvement from everyone. What started as a formal working group has grown into a community with deep relationships and friendships. I go to this group of women when I need career advice, an email proofread, or just a daily burst of inspiration.

Q:What inspirational women figures, in and outside of Dropbox, would you like to give a shout out to?

Erin: My Mom! My sister!

In my first years in college, an economics professor, Amy Cramer, encouraged me to continue to pursue economics. Because of her, other mentors, and teachers along the way, I ended up getting a Bachelor’s of Science instead of Arts and taking on Econometrics & Linear Modeling (even though I originally crossed it out of a course catalog and wrote “UGH” by the description).

I also have a girl gang who has been with me since high school. It’s a group of 12 women who’ve shared an ongoing email chain, Google Group, and now WhatsApp chat for the better part of two decades. I really believe these friendships are a resource that has helped me immeasurably.

Erin and her girl gang

My team is an incredible group of women and allies in Executive Recruiting. I joined Dropbox because of one woman in particular: Patti McGuire, who surreptitiously recruited me by just asking me to lunch.

JJ: I’d love to give a shout out to the incredible women who are volunteering their time and energy to make Women’s History Month at Dropbox happen! We have women from across the company who have signed up to do everything from leading a major month-long initiative to organizing an event. These women behind the scenes, executing on everything truly make the month possible. While we recognize women throughout the month who empower each other, this is the crew that empowers me to do more and inspires me with all they are able to accomplish.

Women’s History Month planning team

My grandma has been my source of inspiration and empowerment for as long as I can remember. I could write a novel about her (and maybe I will someday) but I’ll try to summarize. My grandma grew up playing sports, perpetually frustrated by the recognition boys received for their athletic achievements compared to girls. It’s only fitting she went on to work in sports at the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), a national sports organization with nearly 700,000 participants. While my grandma was playing AAU sports, she worked her way up from a regional volunteer to become the first and only female president of the AAU in its 130 years. To recognize her for the contributions she’d made over the years, the AAU recently named an award after her, The Gussie Crawford Lifetime Achievement Award, which she gets to give out every year to an athlete of her choosing.

JJ’s grandmama, Gussie Crawford, with President Ronald Reagan while serving as president of the AAU

I recall asking her how she was able to achieve so much in a male-dominated industry. Beyond joking that people thought she was a man because her name is Gus, she attributes it solely to working hard and never questioning that she should be there. She always rejected the idea that a woman shouldn’t work and be the bread winner of the family. Even now, she refuses to slow down, continuing to be involved as a volunteer with the AAU and an elected alderman in her town. She instilled her work ethic and ideals in her children and grandchildren. And, as a result, I’ve always felt empowered by her and my own mother to accomplish anything I put my mind to regardless of my gender. Thanks, Grandmama!

Q: What can Dropboxers (allies, especially) learn from this theme?

A: Allies are incredibly important to empowering women. We like to think of this as a chain reaction. The more women our allies can empower, the more women those women will empower. With a majority of women reporting into male leaders, having the support of allies is critical for advancing their careers. I’ve personally had men in leadership positions advocating for me and empowering me to take risks and make bigger moves in the organization than I would have otherwise. I hope that allies at Dropbox empower women by advocating for them and getting more involved in Women@ initiatives.

Check back to meet more women of Dropbox! In the meantime visit www.dropbox.com/jobs

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