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Tech By Her: How Three of Facebook’s Women Tech Leaders Have Navigated Their Careers

To celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) theme of “An equal world is an enabled world,” we’re kicking off “Tech by Her,” a global initiative that champions and supports the women in our developer and startup communities and across the tech ecosystem.

How to Navigate the Challenge of Being a Woman in Tech

In the technology industry, gender disparity continues to be an issue – women held only 20% of all jobs in technology in 20181 and Crunchbase reported that a mere 13% of vested venture capital funds were put behind female co-founded startups in 20192.

It’s no secret that women face unique challenges in the workplace. Because of the gender bias that is prevalent in the tech world, the women currently in senior leadership roles have made it to the top through merit, grit and determination. At Facebook, we brought three of our women leaders from the Developer Partnerships team across the globe to share how they were able to face and overcome their challenges, and find success in the tech field.

Finding Confidence through a Support Network

For Virginia Yang, Director of APAC Developer Partnerships & Programs, her biggest challenge has been facing and overcoming self-doubt. This began for her in university, where she was one of the few women studying computer science. “I often got looks walking into class as if I had entered the wrong room,” she said.

Unfortunately, this did not change when she graduated and began her career, where she was a rare woman in the role of product manager. “I was asked multiple times – and even incredulously – ’You have a degree in computer science?’,” she said.

Additionally, Virginia describes herself as an introvert, and she found it difficult to speak up during meetings that were dominated by more extroverted coworkers. But she learned how to overcome these challenges by finding workplace allies who gave her advice and support. “They were always there when I needed a confidence boost,” Virginia said. “That has really helped me navigate the challenging points I’ve faced throughout my career.”

Standing Up for Yourself and Correcting Gender Bias

As for Viktoria Ruubel, Director of EMEA Developer Partnerships & Programs, she struggled with how to face and correct misconceptions about women in technology. She said, “I vividly remember a situation where I was saying ‘no’ to the terms of a proposed deal and was told this was an emotional response on my part that was probably due to a lack of experience.”

Though Viktoria’s wealth of experience commands respect in the workplace today, she still hears stories of other women who face challenges similar to hers. “This tells me we still have to work hard to increase awareness about how making assumptions based on gender creates a bias, and to always call it out when it happens rather than accept and internalize it.”

Viktoria recalls how she handled – and ultimately corrected – the gender bias she faced during the business deal: “I stood firm on my terms, suggested we revisit the deal when the partner was ready to talk about the deal and not about me and then walked out of the room. It was not long before I received an apology and we closed the deal with my recommendations, which really were win-win for both our companies.”

Confronting Inner Negativity

Facebook’s Director of Global Product Partnerships, Jackie Chang, knows firsthand how inner self-doubt can lead to self-sabotage and overshadow one’s own value. Returning from maternity leave, Jackie heard the whisperings of self-doubt, which shook her confidence. “I started to question if I’d be able to balance my new reality at home and still have the time and energy to be impactful, drive perspectives and serve others at work,” Jackie said.

Once, when a comment from her manager left her feeling unsettled, Jackie mustered the courage to confront the situation. By being open and honest about her feelings and the situation, she was able to dispel any concerns about her abilities to be an asset to the team. In fact, she learned that she misinterpreted the comment and had allowed self-doubt to guide how she responded in the workplace.

She recalls the outcome of this meeting as being one of increased mutual trust and understanding and manifested into a fruitful partnership. “This was a very impactful lesson for me,” she said. “I learned the importance of addressing challenges head-on and cutting to the truth rather than entertaining the negative chatter in my mind.”

Finding Inspiration through Facebook Communities

At Facebook, we are committed to enabling an equal world by driving diversity in the tech ecosystem. We have established tech hubs in fifteen cities across the world alongside intensive programs such as our Accelerator program and Developer Circles (DevC). These programs provide developers and startups – especially those helmed by women – access to training, guidance and mentorship, which can lead them to scale their careers and businesses sustainably. Read some of the inspirational stories of women innovators and startup founders who are raising the bar all around the world here.

Join us in celebrating a woman in tech whom you know of by giving her a shout-out on your social channels with the hashtag #TechbyHer. You can also engage in the conversation by joining future FB Lives and look out for videos we’ll be sharing on our Facebook pages across Facebook for Developers, Facebook Developer Circles and Facebook for Startups.


Favorite Community Story:

Virginia Yang’s pick:
One of my favorite stories of all time is of Nyha Shree, Co-founder of Jumper.ai, an AI-enabled software platform that helps businesses chat and connect with customers via social media platforms. I love that though she failed to find success with several startup ventures, Nyha never gave up – not even when she was living on 40 cents a day and facing pressure from friends and family to get a stable job. Today, Jumper.ai – her sixth venture – is a Facebook product partner that has over 15,000 using their service. Nyha’s resilience and entrepreneurial spirit has been a huge inspiration to me.Read Nyha’s story here
Viktoria Ruubel’s pick:
I relate to Tamara & Mariia Koliada’s journey. Like Tamara I often felt like I was being judged not by my abilities, but by my gender and physical appearance. I admire greatly the way both the Koliada sisters are forging careers in tech despite prejudice and how they inspire other women within their Developer Circle community.
Read Tamara and Mariia’s story here
Jackie Chang’s pick:
The story of Katherine from Whatsquare really resonates with me. Katherine was able to draw on her experience in marketing, communications, and business development to identify a market gap and opportunity in customer care. Beyond her business, she strives to build community and connections with other female entrepreneurs to draw on a stronger collective of support and expertise. We need more Katherines to grow the community of global female leaders!
Read Katherine’s story here

1 Only 20% of Tech Jobs are Held by Women, How About at Your." 13 Mar. 2018, https://smallbiztrends.com/2018/03/women-in-technology-statistics.html. Accessed 6 Mar. 2020.
2 "Crunchbase Report: Venture Funding For Female Founders ...." 22 Oct. 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/devinthorpe/2019/10/22/crunchbase-report-venture-funding-for-female-founders-falls/. Accessed 6 Mar. 2020.

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