The Good Ones: Men Who Have Empowered Me as a Woman in Tech

There has been a lot of horrible news floating around about how women are treated in tech.

While I've experienced my fair share of sexism (pinched from behind while walking up stairs, looked up and down, etc.), I wanted to take a minute to reflect on the people - the men, in particular, who have made my work life an incredibly safe and comfortable one. I felt this way before I got pregnant. Now that I'm a mom to be, I have an even deeper sense of gratitude for my respectful, compassionate male colleagues. 

Here are the men I'm grateful for in my career:

Robert Kavaler, Senior VP and Co-Founder at Sensys Networks
Robert was an executive who walked around wearing the same Cal button down, khaki shorts, and sandals every day. His wiry grey hair was always trying to escape his head and he approached everything with a healthy dose of playfulness and suspicion.  

I started my tech career at Sensys Networks as the company's Administrative Assistant. From day one, Robert treated me with collegial respect. We'd talk about politics at my desk. A cofounder and PhD from Cal, I held Robert in incredibly high regard. When he wanted to hear what I had to say I by default, felt smart and worthy. 

David Royer, Product & UX Designer
Dave is the reason I went into design. His friends were all designers and he loved his job. I couldn't believe there was this world of thoughtful, kind people who make great money studying computers and human behavior. 

I told Dave I was interested in becoming a designer and he was immediately on board. I had no product or design experience and he helped me construct a long term action plan to break into the field. He never questioned my ability to learn and he willingly nurtured my curiosity as soon as it was detected. 

Robert Hoehn, CEO @ IdeaScale
Robert Hoehn is a free spirited hippie turned CEO. He's always laughing and adventuring. He brought me on board in my first (and possibly last?) product management role and quickly promoted me to manage the entire four person product team. I was petrified by the responsibility but I accepted it because Rob believed in me and he gave me the chance.

I attended my first board meetings and managed my first team. I managed a department budget for the first time and oversaw development processes for a 20-person team in Bangladesh. It was one of the most challenging roles I've ever had but I learned and grew a ton. It made me a better designer.

Jeff Boulter, Tech Lead @ Hubspot
While I'm only 5 months into Hubspot, Jeff has already left an impression on me. He's a dad of three and he has a ton of experience leading teams of engineers. I was intimidated by his experience level when I joined and that quickly dissipated as I worked with him and another 27-year-old female Product Manager. 

Jeff immediately trusted me and the PM-supporting my PM's strategic decisions and working through problems with us in a informative, respectful way. He encouraged my PM to lead and he never made me feel stupid or inexperienced despite his greater wisdom. Jeff made it seem normal to be a young woman leading a team and I appreciated that. It became normal for me too.

Jay Ciruolo, Senior Software Engineer @ Hubspot
Jay made my jaw drop when I joined Hubspot. I remember I was in a user research meeting with him and we were debriefing on a session we had just listened in on. There were about ten of us in the room and a young twenty-something woman was leading the session.

Jay and the meeting leader spoke at the same time. Immediately the woman apologized and told Jay to continue speaking. Jay paused and said, "no-this is your meeting, you go." I literally thought I stumbled into a different dimension. I had never seen a guy be so self aware and supportive of a woman leading a meeting. 

Jonathan Meharry, Design Lead @ Hubspot
I may be drinking the Meharry cool-aid but Jonathan has been the best manager I've ever had. He spends most of our 1:1s listening and when we problem solve together, it's always highly collaborative and rarely someone with more power telling someone with less power to do something.

He advocates for his people and he does it with finessed communication and no ego. He has also followed up with me frequently to ensure I'm getting what I need to do my job well while I simultaneously grow a human being. It's so helpful to have a manager who's also a new dad with a 2-year-old son.

Tim Merrill, Director of Product Research and Design @ Hubspot
When I interviewed for a new job this time round, Tim Merrill stood out in a huge way because unlike other executives/department heads, Tim listened. Most of the interview was listening. Since then, Tim has continued to listen and I've been incredibly touched by how compassionate and caring he is towards his people. He's an open book who cares about both good design/product and bettering the world at large.

Why are they awesome?
When I look back on these men who have nurtured my career, 6 of the 7 are fathers. If you're looking to foster healthier, more equal work environments-maybe start there? From my experience dads do it right.