10 Girl Geeks Making History & Changing The World

June 21, 2023
frances haugen sheila lirio marcelo mira murati shanea leven

We spotlight 10 girl geeks this week with valuable insights on mentorship, leadership, engineering and so much more – in celebration of International Women in Engineering Day! Watch their sessions from Girl Geek Dinners at the video links below:

#1 – Frances Haugen, Former Product Manager, Facebook – speaking on Product Management and Gender (video) – at GitHub Girl Geek Dinner:

“You don’t have to accept bad behavior. Vote with your feet.”

“You should find things that you love, and you should go do them. If you can dream it, you can build it. I’ve been in environments where it seemed there were insurmountable odds, yet we went out and did it. The world isn’t fair, but you belong in it.”

“What you do today matters to the women who come after you. I wouldn’t be here today if Marissa Mayer hadn’t been in my management chain [at Google].”

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#2 – Sheila Lirio Marcelo, Founder, Care.com – speaking (video) – at Care.com Girl Geek Dinner:

“Being Asian, we had designated professions. There were supposed to be the doctor, the dentist, the engineer, the lawyer, but God forbid no one should ever become an entrepreneur.

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I was working at a technology company, but using the Yellow Pages to look for care. Something really didn’t add up…”

If women and men worked equally, from the McKinsey study, the worldwide GDP would grow by $28 trillion or 26% by 2025. Apparently, that’s the size of the combined US and China GDP, if they were just equal. The single biggest obstacle to women’s equal workforce participation across the globe is balancing work and family responsibilities

#3 – Mira Murati, Chief Technology Officer, OpenAI – speaking (video) – at OpenAI Girl Geek Dinner:

There is definitely a lot of hype, but there is also a ton of technological advancement that’s happening.”

“My background is in mechanical engineering but most of my work has been dedicated to practical applications of technology.  Every day we wake up to headlines. We wonder what this is going to do to our minds and to our societies, our workplaces and healthcare.”

Even politicians and cultural commentators are aware of what’s happening with AI to some extent, and politicians like this, to the extent that there’s a lot of nations out there that have published their AI strategies.”

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#4 – Charlotte Yarkoni, President, Commerce and Ecosystems, Microsoft – speaking (video) – at Microsoft Girl Geek Dinner:

I was part of an inaugural program at the time called Electrical Engineering or Computer Science, or EECS as it was known.”

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“Kicking it old school.. that was my education, if you will, and my real foray into tech. The challenge is, though, it comes with a responsibility. At Microsoft, GitHub, and LinkedIn, we spend a lot of time on that. It’s not just about innovating, it’s about innovating with purpose, and making sure that you’re leaving the world in a better place than you found it before you introduced your solutions. It’s those unintended consequences that you have to be very thoughtful about.”

#5 – Citlali Solano Leonce, Director of Engineering, Palo Alto Networks – speaking (video) – at Palo Alto Networks Girl Geek Dinner:

“I’m hoping that tomorrow is going to be a little safer than today, so that the world that I leave to my kids and my legacy is much better than what I’m living right now.”

“Back in the day there were no cell phones, no tablets, no flat TV screens… Now, we all have our lives in the digital world. How many of you do your banking online? How many of you do video gaming or your kids do video gaming? We have a big responsibility, everything is interconnected. How do we prevent the bad guys from getting that? I personally love working here because I identify with our mission of securing our digital way of life.”

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#6 – Mariana Tessel, Chief Technology Officer, Intuit – speaking (video) – at Intuit Girl Geek Dinner:

“One of the things that I’ve learned in my [career] path that your network is one of the most important things that are going to help you in your career.”

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“Sometimes you find your network in unexpected places.”

“To give you a few ideas, the people you know then later on they will go places, or you need something, or they need something and then you have that connection to really make a dent for them, for the companies, for you, for your career, for your company or sometimes even just getting advice when you need it or sometimes it’s finding that next job when you need it, whatever that is.”

#7 – Claire Hough, Chief Technology Officer, Carbon Health – speaking (video) – at SquareTrade Girl Geek Dinner:

“One of the reasons why I stay there is for all of you to know that you can be Head of Engineering anywhere you want, right?

“I have to say I’ve been around the block a few times but young women these days impress me every day. There were a lot of opportunities for me to get out of engineering. People offered me other jobs like product, GM, or whatever. But because tech is such an unfriendly place for women, I didn’t want me to add to the number of women getting out.”

Be resilient, stay in it, and add value. That’s my story of why I’m so old but I’m still in it.”

claire hough cto IG quote squaretrade girl geek dinner

#8 – Neha Narkhede, Co-Founder, Confluent & Co-Creator of Apache Kafka – speaking (video) at Confluent Girl Geek Dinner:

Developing a sisterhood will take us far in seeing the change we want to see in the industry.

neha narkhede open source confluent girl geek dinner IG quote

“I was lucky enough to be on a team that got a chance to create a very popular distributed system called Apache Kafka. We open sourced it, it went viral. I sourced a business opportunity around Confluent, pitched it. Fortunately, they agreed to start this company with me.”

“Most of my career has been about introducing this new category of software called Kafka and event streaming into the world.”

#9 – Shanea Leven, CEO & Co-Founder, CodeSee – speaking (video) – at CodeSee Girl Geek Dinner:

“We need to support more women in developer tools. They’re basically force multipliers because you enable developers to do something better to enable their end users.”

“I am fortunate to get to ride this trend, to build a developer tool and help people learn how large scale codebases work, so that we can spend more time building. There are a bunch of startups popping up to help you understand and build features faster and help you understand in a very different way than traditionally you’ve had to understand a codebase. As new types of people, women, underrepresented people, get into engineering, our dev tools need to evolve with them.”

shanea leven codesee girl geek dinner dev tools

#10 – Alethea Power, Member of Technical Staff at OpenAI – speaking (video) – at OpenAI Girl Geek Dinner:

“This talk is called ‘If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try Try Again’.

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“About 10 years ago, my dream was to get into artificial intelligence, but I didn’t know how to do it.”

“I was a software engineer and site reliability engineer, so attending OpenAI Girl Geek Dinner in 2019 and meeting a recruiter introduced me to Residency Program. I ended up applying full-time and I got three offers here. Thank you. I wasn’t trying to brag, but thank you. This is more to encourage you.”

openai girl geek dinner Alethea Power

How to plan a Girl Geek Dinner

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For more inspiring women in tech:

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