I would like to share my experience when I started at Target three years ago. My first day started like most at a large company. A recruiter welcomed me and she showed me to my desk and introduced me to my engineering manager. I went to lunch with my EM and she told me about the team and what my role would be on the team. After lunch I was introduced to the product owner of the team. The PO talked about her goals and the exciting initiatives she had planned for the group.
At this point I want to step back and point out the pronouns that I used. All of the people who I have talked about were female. This was really the first thing that stood out to me. Women in technology is a large focus at Target. Throughout my career in tech it has been primarily dominated by men. I had assumed that Target would really be no different, but that first day really opened my eyes to just how much the tech industry is suffering from this imbalance. Now, after three years in a “more balanced” environment I can’t see moving to a company that is skewed towards the male gender.
Having technology teams that are more balanced brings something that I didn’t know was missing. That thing is empathy. Empathy for our teammates, empathy for our internal users, and empathy for our guests. As an engineer who deals with data and systems I didn’t realize the importance of this. I will admit that at other companies I have worked at, the bro-code mentality was strong. We didn’t take into consideration how our users would feel when using our system. What was valued was how awesome our code was, or how fast the system processed data. At Target, having women on the team has brought that consideration back into the mix for me.
Our CIO has committed to a goal of 50 percent female hires for entry-level engineering roles this year. I am very proud and excited about having management that sees the benefit for Target. Within Target we have many communities. One of those is TWIST (Target Women in Science & Technology). This community is focused on engaging and advancing women in STEM careers. Different events within the community include Science & Technology Days (STEM activities and presentations for ~150 high-school girls and teacher), Girl Scouts STEM Day, and education activity kits that Target team members can check out and share at their children’s schools.
From my first day at Target to today I respect and enjoy all of the contributions and collaborations with my teammates. The future is bright for women in tech at Target and I can’t wait to see how far we can go.