Speaker: Kathleen Vignos, Director, Software Engineering, Twitter
Why is Women’s History Month important to you? How are you celebrating?
Kathleen Vignos: Women's History Month is important to me because it gives us a chance to really recognize female leaders and trailblazers who have gone before us and who have helped us believe that if we can see it, we can be it. I have the chance to celebrate in a special way this year. Together with a group of women from a professional networking association I'm in called High Power, we are running the Napa women's half marathon. And I love running because it's a way for me to be outdoors. It's a way for me to listen and move to music. Um, but especially because it makes me feel young and it makes me feel powerful and it gives me a renewed commitment to doing really hard things. Um, and so I'm really looking forward to the race.
2022's International Women's Day theme is #BreakTheBias. Can you speak to biases we can work to break in our communities and/or workplaces?
Kathleen Vignos: Several years ago, I was part of a campaign called I Look Like an Engineer. And that campaign was about giving visibility and normalizing people who don't fit the stereotypical engineering mold. And I think this idea continues to be important today because we continue to see women with extensive experience who are being asked for credentials that men aren't required to give most of the time, like standardized test scores or certain degrees. We continue to break down these biases by being willing to be the first or only woman in a space, by partnering with allies who can provide us visible support and the things that we're doing and by making sure that we establish objective criteria that holds everyone to the same set of standards. Whether that's for hiring, for deciding who gets the best projects at work or for promotion. So I truly believe that getting really rigorous and consistent about the way that we evaluate talent in the tech industry is more fair and benefits everyone because it makes it clear what the expectations are.
What advice would you give to the next generation of women as they begin their careers?
Kathleen Vignos: I often find myself being asked for and giving the kind of advice that is ultimately about normalizing failure. Failure is key to growth. Working in technology and engineering is very challenging and failure is just an integral part of the experience. And it's not something to be avoided and it doesn't mean we're not cut out for the work. We have to separate failure that comes through stretching ourselves, trying new things, being really ambitious, experimenting from our understanding of our value and our worth. We can kind of get confused by thinking that something is hard because we're not capable or we're inadequate instead of just understanding, it's hard for everyone. And the people who succeed are the ones who persist, who step back and come at the problem from another direction or who ask for help or who let the problem kind of simmer before they try again. So my advice is generally to try to develop a sense of confidence that comes from having enough determination to just keep going and believe that you'll find a way through. Because even the most senior engineers that I work with experienced failure, it's just all part of it.