Weave Lab
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Weave Lab

Weave Works to Promote Women in Tech

As a female software engineer I have often found myself in the minority. It is not always the most comfortable position to be in — never quite being one of the guys, having to adapt to their culture and interaction, working through the discomfort. In this field we have all been there. The best way to change the standard is to create a new one. We need to make more people aware of the disparity and to help more women enter the field. Through good fortune and with help from my employers, I have been able to work with great organizations that enable workplace minorities to find success.

Many years ago in high school I had my first experience in the world of software. My high school had an integrated study program with a local vocational school; one of the programs that they offered was computer programming. There were 60 students enrolled in the 2-year program. I was one of two women enrolled in the program. As expected, the cosmetology and CNA programs at this vocational school were almost 100% female, and the graphic design program was about 70% female. For some reason the computer programming program seemed to just be not quite as attractive to women.

I found myself trapped in this class. I was subject to endure the gross and often sexual jokes made by the male students around me. I was alienated and isolated. The experience was was so torturous that I left after a single year and thought I was never going to program again.

In college while studying for my physics degree, I took a job as a QA tester/student developer (QA means quality assurance-tester, which verifies the functionality of a website or application and often writes an automatic test to help with that). Again, not unlike in my physics classes, I found myself in the minority. I was the only female among the student developers. There were two other women beside me, a senior female developer that worked on the floor above me, and the project manager. This experience was not as off-putting as the first at the vocational school. I did find it hard to ask for help and learn, as there was a general air of superiority among my peers. Overall though, there was a vast improvement.

Now, as a full-fledged software engineer, I again find myself in the minority. Companies try to hire more females, but when 40 of 40 applicants are male, there isn’t much of a choice. I have gone to large conferences where the numbers are much more even between men and women, but when I return to my home in Utah it is back to the same disparaging differences. So what can be done to change this differential? At Weave (my current place of work), we are attacking this issue head-on in many fronts.

While on a panel addressing the state of technology in Utah at the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit 2019, Weave CTO Clint Berry talked about Weave’s ongoing effort to support organizations that dedicate time and talent to empowering women. Weave gives ongoing support to the Utah chapter of Women Who GO and recently signed up to sponsor a local Women TechMakers Conference. These organizations not only help the women in the community (like me) gain knowledge and skills, but also allows for change and influence in the larger Silicon Slopes Tech Community.

Weave makes huge efforts to get involved with local education efforts as well. From local boot camps to world class universities, Weave employees help those learning to gain skills, find jobs, and network in the local community. Weave has previously sponsored a free evening class to help minorities learn to code and find entry level jobs in the tech community.

One of the most important things Weave can do is allow employees to be successful in every stage of their lives. Weave has an advocacy group called Women at Weave, which was created to empower not just those women in the software development department, but also to benefit all female employees at Weave. The Women at Weave group has direct access to the executive team to express concerns and to propose changes that can have a direct impact on the success of employees in the workplace. At Weave we also experience the benefits of a progressive maternity/paternity policy, flexible hours, remote work, local meetups, and great career progression benefits.

As the organizer of Women Who Go Utah, a woman, and a minority in the tech industry, I have been very blessed by Weave’s effort to help close the gender gap. I have had conversations with all of Weave’s founders about this, and they hold this cause close to their hearts. I know it is a slow fight, but with time we will see the technology industry revolutionized as more women influence new products and services.

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Lessons learned from the Weave development lab

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Miriah Peterson

Miriah Peterson

Data Engineer | ML hobbiest | Golang Evangelist | Presenter

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