In honor of International Women’s Day, our Chief Technology Officer, Bridget Frey, spoke alongside other female leaders on a panel about diversity & inclusion in tech at Google Cloud Next ’17. During the conversation, Bridget shared her own experiences as a female in the tech industry and described how that has shaped her perspective as a leader.
“Early on in my career, there were a lot of situations where I was the only woman in the room. For example, when I was an intern, I worked on a floor of 150 engineers. There were only two women, the group’s assistant and myself. Now, things have evolved. The dialogue is much more open as there are more channels and opportunities for women to communicate.”
Bridget, however, acknowledged that she had the advantage of being introduced to technology from an early age. Her dad bought her an Apple IIe when she was five and they often spent time learning to program on it. By the time she started getting messages from society that tech wasn’t for girls, she was less influenced because of her past experiences.
Today, Bridget oversees a team of 150 engineers between San Francisco and Seattle, and has grown her team to almost 30 percent female during her time at Redfin. She believes that having a truly diverse team is the key to ensuring success.
“High-performing teams are often able to get a lot of ideas on the table and figure out what to do with those ideas. Having a diverse team is one way to make sure that you have a wide variety of ideas to choose from.”
Bridget even cited specific examples where intersectional teams have helped Redfin build better products and more importantly, have identified early on when products had non-inclusive language or unconscious biases.
During the conversation, Bridget also expressed the need for employers to be conscious of employees who are looking to start families.
“We need to do a better job of how we make tech inclusive for parents. I have two boys and I faced an important challenge about how to negotiate my career after children.”
For tech companies and people managers, she gave very concrete advice.
“You should not only focus on preparing for your employees to take parental leave. You should also focus on what it’s going to be like for that person when they get back. Identify how their needs are going to change over time.”
In addition to being a thought leader on gender issues in the tech industry, as a manager and mentor, Bridget provides her advice and guidance to men and women at Redfin who aspire to become leaders themselves.
Jeanette Calandra (Managing Partner PwC), Aarthi Ramamurthy (Founder, Lumoid), Sowmya Subramanian (Director Engineering, YouTube) and Caroline Tsay (CEO, Compute Software) joined Bridget on the panel, which was led by Moderator Yolanda Mangolini (Director Global Diversity & Inclusion Google).