Erica interviewing Ya Xu, Principle Staff Engineer and Statistician

Share your personal journey
After Jeff’s conversation with Erica, I was lucky enough to join her onstage for a chat. We talked about our individual journeys and the problems we’ve personally faced in our careers as women in tech. For me, I always thought I understood diversity, having been one half of a biracial marriage. But when I entered the workforce, I realized that diversity is something much bigger. It was a kind of “a-ha!” moment for me. Now I’m fortunate enough to be able to utilize my management role to interact with and understand people beyond gender, ethnicity, and any other labels. The more we talk about these things out in the open, the more progress we can make.

Create space to be vulnerable, ask for help, and seek allies
At one point in the fireside chat, I asked Erica, “What piece of advice would you give your younger self?” Erica simply said, “Be vulnerable.” Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts with people, ask for help, and look for those people in your journey who can be a sounding board as you progress in the job. Those people are so important. When Erica asked me the same question, I had to agree: being vulnerable opens people up to one another and makes each of us more willing to help out. We’re not going to make progress if we don’t stop and help each other.

Encourage attendees to share best practices
Following the fireside chats, we broke into smaller group discussions. These discussions, which are limited to 8-10 people per table, are designed for attendees to share professional best practices, successes, and obstacles they encounter in the workplace. WomenConnect facilitators play a critical role in the event’s success by driving these table discussions and ensuring everyone has a chance to contribute. Part of the materials we’ve open sourced shares best practices for facilitators, as well as recommended guidelines for facilitator selection.

We wrap up each event with read-outs from each table, where WomenConnect facilitators or event attendees take turns sharing key points and best practices from their smaller discussions with the broader group.