The gender narrative in tech is rife with examples of inequality. Situations like reddit vs. Ellen Pao and GamerGate death threats show that discrimination against women in tech persists. As for representation, the numbers for women in tech are actually getting worse, especially in positions where they can influence product or business strategy.
So how can a technology company 1) encourage women to work there and 2) empower them in their roles? To find key characteristics that facilitate these ends, I looked to my own company. I expected our legal tech startup to get the double whammy of diversity problems: from tech and from law, two historically homogenous industries. However, in a subversion of that trend, five of our six new hires this year have been women. Interested in why they chose to make a legal technology startup part of their professional career, I asked some of my female coworkers – both new and not – “Why Everlaw?”
Everlaw is a small group of talented folks who care about usability and want to make a great product together. I felt like I could make an impact without having to jump over any sort of hurdle.
People here are not only intelligent, but also extremely trustworthy. Past interviewers always assumed I wasn’t good enough until I proved them otherwise. At Everlaw, it was the opposite; for once, I felt at ease and was able to take every question as a demanding and rewarding challenge.
I love Everlaw’s friendly, collaborative culture. The company is made up of humble people who embrace constructive criticism and recognize their coworkers’ contributions. Cutthroat competition between Everlaw employees exists mostly in the form of scorching ping pong matches, and the lack of office politics is very refreshing.
Everlaw gives me the opportunity to help grow a startup in a collaborative, lighthearted, and respectful environment. I really feel that the people here are not only invested in the success and development of the company and product, but also in each other.
Startup culture is wonderful. We get the job done in an easygoing environment that offers an abundance of snacks and board games. Also, everyone on the team is friendly and intelligent. I’m surrounded by top-notch talent that’s always achieving.
One recurrent theme from my colleagues’ answers is Everlaw’s cooperative office culture, which fosters a climate of teamwork and mutual goals unhindered by gender differences. My colleagues of both genders feel empowered by an easygoing and egalitarian environment, where collaborative work is frequent, trust is integral, and recognition is always given.
Not to be overlooked in the above responses is the high level of agency afforded to each employee. The value of being able to make a visible influence and directly shape the company’s future cannot be overstated. My team members – both male and female – can immediately see, and therefore truly believe, that their work matters. As illustrated by the aforementioned lack of female decision-makers in tech, this kind of opportunity is especially elusive for women. When it does exist, few things are more motivating.
I’m proud that Everlaw trusts and encourages female employees to make a difference, and I hope we can set an example for more startups and legal companies to follow.
What other factors do you think make tech a more welcoming space for women? I’d love to hear about it!