Girls Just Want to Have ... an Empowering Engineering Culture

These four companies are going above and beyond to create an inclusive culture for women engineers.

Written by Cathleen Draper
Published on Jul. 12, 2022
Girls Just Want to Have ... an Empowering Engineering Culture
Brand Studio Logo

Though nearly half of all U.S. workers are women, just 15 percent of engineers are. That disparity can have far-reaching implications.

“Women represent half of the world’s population, need the same resources and face the same global challenges — often at a disadvantage — as the other half,” Ania Lopez, a national member representative for the World Federation of Engineering Organizations, wrote for the World Economic Forum in 2020. “And yet, far fewer women are involved in designing and developing smart, sustainable, technology-based solutions that would allow us all to live better lives.”

Why is that? To start, the male-dominated engineering field doesn’t cultivate women role models for future engineers. There’s sexism, harassment and discrimination against women in the workplace.

Companies can create a space for women engineers by offering an empowering and 

collaborative work culture with women in leadership positions, competitive benefits, flexibility and a mission that aligns with their personal values, according to the Society for Women Engineers Women in Engineering Talent Pulse Report.

Recruiting and retaining more women engineers doesn’t just improve designs to benefit all people; it also creates space for role models for future generations of women and girls to look up to. 

Flexport, Taskrabbit, Aurora Solar and Carbon aim to build diverse and inclusive cultures to do just that. Built In Austin spoke with leaders at the four companies to find out just how they’re bringing more women into the engineering fold.

 

Flexport colleagues having a team huddle
Flexport

 

Shanthi Nanne
Senior Engineering Manager • Flexport

 

Flexport is building a strategic operation model that combines tech, analytics, logistics infrastructure and supply chain expertise to make global trade easier.

 

Describe your recruiting efforts to get more women into engineering roles at Flexport.

We are committed to hiring diverse talent, and we track the hiring process and take accountability. We ensure interview panels are diverse to show candidates what we are about. I aim to hire diverse candidates and recruit through LinkedIn women’s groups and programming bootcamps, and I network with external organizations for women engineers and other leadership communities. We also hire candidates from non-traditional backgrounds.

Hiring women in leadership roles helps to create a culture of belongingness, and they serve as role models for other women engineers at Flexport.

 

What makes Flexport an attractive place to work for women in engineering? 

Flexport’s mission to make global trade easy for everyone, and the real-world impact of that, stands out to me.

As a woman engineering leader and a mother of a toddler, I can say from personal experience that Flexport offers flexibility and work-life balance. The employee and parental benefits are attractive. There are also continuous learning programs that encourage employees to invest in themselves, and there is equity in pay and career growth opportunities.

Hiring women in leadership roles helps to create a culture of belongingness.’’

 

How does Flexport support women engineers? What policies are in place to ensure an equitable and safe work environment for employees?

We aim to create an inclusive and safe team environment. We connect women engineers with women in leadership roles who serve as role models. Our mentorship program also helps women engineers grow their skills and feel supported. The women engineering group provides a safe space for discussions. We also focus on career development and create growth opportunities for women engineers.

 

 

Thusha Agampodi
Director of Engineering • Aurora Solar

 

Aurora Solar develops cloud-based software that enables engineering design, provides workflow management and facilitates sales and customer acquisition, all to help society transition to solar energy.

 

Describe your recruiting efforts to get more women into engineering roles at Aurora Solar.

We closely examine our job postings to ensure the language is inclusive and that the requirements we list are the actual requirements for the job — women tend to apply exclusively to jobs they feel 100 percent qualified for.

To diversify our hiring pipeline, we’ve diversified where we look for candidates. The gender diversity of our engineering leadership team has drastically increased over the last six months, and we want to highlight that in our recruiting efforts. Our engineering leaders have attended recruiting events for women in tech and spoken on panels regarding diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. We hope to roll out other initiatives this year to help us reach a more diverse audience.

To diversify our hiring pipeline, we’ve diversified where we look for candidates.”

 

What makes Aurora Solar an attractive place to work for women in engineering?

With the large number of women leaders in our organization, there is a diverse set of coaches and mentors who can guide women through their engineering career and share their experiences.

Data shows that women look to join companies that have a positive societal impact, and Aurora Solar’s mission to bring the cost of solar down for everyone makes that kind of positive impact on the world.

Plus, the diversity, equity and inclusion questions we ask during our interview process ensure that everyone we hire contributes to creating an inclusive environment. We say no to candidates who we feel will not contribute to an inclusive environment. You can expect a welcoming environment where you can do your best work.

 

How does Aurora Solar support women engineers? What policies are in place to ensure an equitable and safe work environment for employees?

Our employee resource groups, including the Women at Aurora ERG and DEI in Engineering group, are a great place to find common ground and discuss improvements to our culture. There are also mentorship opportunities with women leaders at Aurora.

The engineering leadership team reviews salary bands against diverse sets of data to ensure equity exists, and we compare our bands against market data and adjust salaries accordingly. The engineering department also has a detailed career ladder to ensure promotions are equitable and accomplishments are assessed without bias. We have set clear career growth conversation timelines.

We have tools available for burnout assessments, and we regularly have one-on-one conversations to ensure work-life balance exists for team members.

 

 

Christina Sollecito
Engineering Manager • Taskrabbit

 

Taskrabbit is a marketplace platform that connects people with Taskers who handle everyday to-do’s, like furniture assembly and moving help.

 

Describe your recruiting efforts to get more women into engineering roles at Taskrabbit.

Here at Taskrabbit, hiring managers contact prospective candidates directly through LinkedIn and invite them to apply for our open positions. This starts a conversation, and we are able to speak to the culture directly from a woman’s point of view. We incentivize referrals for engineers and give them the tools to contact candidates to chat candidly. There is an entire team dedicated to recruiting in a thoughtful and inclusive manner. 

Often, members of our engineering team proactively share with their network about the women-led leadership and incredible number of women at Taskrabbit. Overall, our culture, mission and work environment attracts women to want to join.

From day one, we are all encouraged to be our genuine, true selves at work.”

 

What makes Taskrabbit an attractive place to work for women in engineering?

Taskrabbit is a values-driven company that really cares, and it’s visible through the culture, benefits and flexibility. It is inspiring to work with other women in engineering, and we have a lot of them here. It helps to know you are not alone as a female in tech. The executive and engineering leadership teams are both female-led, giving women role models to learn from and an environment led with empathy. The remote-first culture allows for the work environment to be comfortable and flexible so work can fit into your life, not the other way around. The work model gives opportunities to periodically meet colleagues in person, and there are many virtual events to make connections. 

There are benefits that support women such as a reproductive health stipend, parental leave and a wellness stipend, and our bereavement policy includes pregnancy loss. It is not uncommon to see calendar blocks for meditation, family care or focus time. We have flexible PTO and are able to work the hours that fit our life. Managers are understanding and open to accommodating this regularly.

From day one, we are all encouraged to be our genuine, true selves at work.

 

How does Taskrabbit support women engineers? What policies are in place to ensure an equitable and safe work environment for employees?

We have a thorough onboarding process that includes detailed plans and regular meetings for the new hire class. The people team and local leadership check in on this plan regularly and check in on our new hires several months after they join. There are coffee chats to meet others at the company, affinity groups to join, including the Women at Tr and Parents at Tr groups, and Slack channels for many different interests. This helps all employees to feel welcome and make sustained connections. There is informal mentorship that occurs among women in engineering and a continued focus on formal coaching and career growth. 

All employees and managers take mandatory harassment training, and we host inclusion workshops for both leadership and employees. We celebrate women throughout Women’s History Month — and all year round!

 

 

Shay Canty
Director, Talent Acquisition • Carbon, Inc.

 

Carbon is creating an idea-to-production platform of materials, software, hardware and services for 3D printing.

 

Describe your recruiting efforts to get more women into engineering roles at Carbon.

Carbon put several foundational elements in place to bring more women into engineering roles here. We reexamined our selection and recruitment process and installed frameworks to place an emphasis on female representation from the very beginning of the recruitment process. 

We make our job listings gender neutral, and we rolled out training sessions to reduce bias in interviewing. We regularly monitor our recruiting process and pipeline metrics to ensure we have equitable representation and consideration for female candidates. In addition, we ensure that women are represented in interview panels.

We also partner with organizations such as Women in 3D Printing to build visibility, promote, support and empower the diverse members of our industry and recruit at conferences that are geared toward women, such as the TIPE Women in 3D Printing conference. 

 

What makes Carbon an attractive place to work for women in engineering? 

To empower women in engineering roles at Carbon, we ensure that women are represented in positions of senior leadership and management across our many engineering functions: materials, software and mechanical. 

We encourage flexible work schedules to help women navigate work and life as they grow in their professional development. We launched flexible work hours, have days off every month and have “no meeting” days.  

We also provide competitive maternity leave options for employees, and we partner with Carrot, a benefit designed to support all paths to parenthood. Our employees receive financial support for their family-forming journeys, unlimited chats with specialists, access to a database of top providers, special discounts, expert resources and personalized help every step of the way.

Our mission, strategies and practices center on our goal of attracting and retaining diverse talent.”

 

How does Carbon support women engineers? What policies are in place to ensure an equitable and safe work environment for employees?

Our mission, strategies and practices center on our goal of attracting and retaining diverse talent while fostering opportunities for career advancement. 

We have a dedicated mentorship program with a priority on first serving those who identify as members of the BIPOC, women and LGBTQIA+ communities. This provides an opportunity for female employees to work with a mentor on their personal development goals and come away equipped with tools and education they can apply to their career growth. 

We also have a dedicated women’s employee resource group that brings Carbon employees together to empower, support and celebrate women of all backgrounds, honoring individuality while building community. The group hosts regular events, panel discussions and fireside chats. Sessions have included Creating Intersectional Power in the Workplace, Owning Your Leadership Style and manager-specific training sessions on bias.

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via listed companies and Shutterstock.

Hiring Now
Calm
Healthtech • Kids + Family • Mobile • Music • Software