The Power of Women in the Workplace: Insights and Inspiration from Hasura Female Leaders
With Women’s History Month coming to an end, we’re wrapping up our own celebration at Hasura by interviewing women leaders within the org, touching on the ups and downs and in-betweens that go along with navigating being a female in a male-dominated industry.
We encourage reading all the way to the end because there is a whole lot of wisdom to be gleaned throughout this post.
And if we ever wonder why we continue to go through these exercises still at this point, let’s turn toward a Maya Angelou quote: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
We all have our stories, and these are some of ours.
The importance of women’s empowerment in the workplace
Let’s kick this off with our fearless female leader, Co-Founder and COO, Rajoshi Ghosh. “We have such incredible and strong women at Hasura, and I continue to be impressed with each new addition to the team. The perspective that they bring to their colleagues, teams, and the product, has shaped the company in such a meaningful way. I’m encouraged by how our team is committed to building a diverse and inclusive workplace, not just because it’s our responsibility, but because we have seen and felt the positive impact this kind of environment has on our business outcomes and team member experience.”
When asked about defining women’s empowerment, and the benefits of having empowered women in the org, Andrea Graham, Senior Sales Engineer, said, “Women's empowerment can be so many things, but mainly it prompts women's sense of self-worth, their independence to make their own choices, and the strength to make social change for themselves and others. Having empowered women in an organization allows them to set social change in motion by pulling in and lifting up others to feel enabled to take up space.”
Manushi Khanna, Senior Manager, Engineering, focused a bit more on the unencumbered aspects of empowerment, and said, “To me, women's empowerment is the power to express myself freely and have equal opportunities in society. It's the ability to follow my dreams without being bound by any rules.”
What do females bring to the table in a male-dominated industry?
Maria F. Almeida, Operations Assistant, said, “Whenever I participate in a conversation, I try to add value and include others. Because I am privileged to be named alongside an incredible team, I go all out to correspond with them and deliver high-quality results to the Developer Success team.”
And Jocelyn Hoppa, Director of Content, who more or less takes the approach of a good old-fashioned wear down, said, “I’m not trying to defy stereotypes women are cast with or approach with boss-lady energy. That’s not a goal. I merely bring with me to the table, just by showing up and doing good work, the possibility that “women in tech” is a phrase that eventually becomes redundant.”
Some big benefits of having women in leadership
“We’ve all seen substantial backing evidence on the financial implications of having women in the workforce or in boardrooms, right from profits being higher to increase in per capita incomes,” Vaishnavi G V S, Product Manager, said. “I want to emphasize the slightly nuanced aspects of this. I believe that having women in leadership positions brings diversity in thought processes, more like a completion of perspective with respect to various decisions. It increases the overall empathy as a group, trust in the organization and its people, and ups the collaboration quotient, which directly impacts the health of an organization, its people, and its outcomes.”
Vaishnavi also addressed women’s increasing awareness of an organizational culture that uplifts women and provides them with equal opportunities. “On many occasions, I’ve had women reach out to me as a woman leader/entrepreneur/engineer, when starting out in similar circumstances to understand the challenges they could face in my position,” she said.
Andrea said of the benefits of women in leadership, “Unlocking gender diversity is a huge business opportunity at all levels, whether it be social or economic. Female leaders not only promote social fairness but they have also been statistically proven to increase financial metrics and innovation. Female leaders set the stage for an effective organization with high emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and integrity.”
As for Hasura, Manushi said, “Women hold key leadership positions at Hasura. It’s lovely to see other women not only pursue their careers but also lead large mandates for the organization. Seeing a woman lead a team encourages other young women and gives them the confidence that they too can follow their dreams and need not settle!”
A tip on how women can support other women in their orgs
“As women leaders in the industry, I think it becomes our responsibility to foster a culture of growth and collaboration where other young women feel comfortable expressing themselves and contributing to the organization,” said Vaishnavi. “Encouraging women to take ownership of impactful projects, driving initiatives that fuel them, giving them speaking opportunities, and even tiny things like asking for their thoughts in an otherwise hard-to-interrupt discussion, all count toward building that foundation of women’s participation. Supporting women who come back to the workforce after a break, who needed this push all the more, and sensitizing both men and women in the organization to create an equitable workplace becomes a priority for growth!”
On building career confidence and resilience
Sometimes resilience and confidence are borne of frustration. Recalling one particular past example, Jocelyn said, “Once I was passed up for a promotion given to a male with fewer years at the company and less overall experience. The reason I was given: my ‘female energy’ would not work in leadership. So yeah, that’s been a key to my resilience. Tell me I can’t do something. I’ll find a way to do it and prove you wrong.”
Sometimes resilience and confidence are found in female role models. Maria said, “Staying curious and having a growth mindset has been foundational for building resilience and confidence. One of my biggest inspirations/role models is Serena Williams. And like her, I learned from a young age that hard work does pay off.”
(Big-time love for Serena <3)
And sometimes it’s a mixture of both! Vaishnavi shares her experience: “If I look back, there were a million instances, small and big, where I faced discrimination, overt or unintended. Where people had bewildering questions along the lines of, ‘Oh, you're the decision maker? Why don't you call your male boss? Or let me talk to a technical person,’ when I was the go-to person in all these scenarios. The bottom line comes down to this: Gain an exceptional command over your subject! If you know what you're talking about, no matter how uncomfortable the situation, your confidence comes from within, and for good reason! It is okay to step out of your comfort zone, as that's what builds you as a person and helps you learn and grow. Ask for help when you need it, talk to your peers and mentors, all the while being true to who you are and holding your ethics in the highest regard. I'd add one more dimension to this, your support system can be men and women! I have had the good fortune of having worked with some amazing men in my career, right from my professors to colleagues to mentors, managers, friends, and family. They've encouraged me, guided me, recognized my caliber, and pushed me to do better. I think all of this contributed to building my confidence and resilience over the years.”
A bit more about some career challenges we’ve faced
“As a woman in a technical role, I am often the only woman in the room. This used to be extremely intimidating but has instead become a superpower of mine,” Andrea said. “My perspectives are completely different from many folks in the room, so my thoughts and opinions help to fundamentally shift the thinking. Having the guts to speak up in a room full of men can be one of the most powerful traits a woman can possess. By sharing your perspective, you’d be surprised how much people will resonate with your thoughts and how you’re not alone in your thinking.”
Britt Harris, Head of People, shares her perspective: “Not only as a woman, but as a woman of color, I have had to navigate the existing cultures, dynamics, and politics in place at various organizations and balance being my authentic self in the workplace, while actively managing against different stereotypes and preconceived notions that individuals may have. Worrying about how to convey authority without being perceived as bossy, being passionate without being discounted as emotional, and expressing dissatisfaction without being seen as angry sometimes feels like it takes effort and energy I could otherwise be putting into other areas. Over time, I think I’ve found a balance that works for me, and I’ve also prioritized working at companies with a culture and leadership that enable me to contribute effectively in a way that is also natural for me.”
Do we believe women can truly “have it all” balancing career, personal life, and passions?
In a word: yes!
Manushi said, “It does not have to be this or that! You can have it all but maybe not at the same time. I think it’s important to understand what your priorities really are and give all aspects of your life equal attention. It also helps to have a solid support system at home and at your workplace. I think the trick is to surround yourself with the right people.”
Britt said, “Yes! We can have it all because we can handle it all! As long as we keep our cups filled by doing things that restore and replenish us, we’ll have unlimited resources to invest in the things and people that matter.”
Imposter syndrome: feeling it and navigating it
“Every time I grow in my career, I feel ‘imposter syndrome,’” said Andrea. “It’s hard to overcome, but you can certainly navigate it. It’s important to find comfort in the discomfort and build personal resiliency in an intimidating environment. No one expects you to step into a role and already know everything there is to know about the responsibilities, so drop the perfectionism and pick up a learning mindset. Restructuring your mindset is important, but so is an encouraging culture that welcomes space for growth and fun challenges.”
Britt concurs, and says, “I definitely still experience this. I don’t know that I’ll ever not feel this way, but what has helped me is talking with some of the most impressive, educated, and highly effective women I know, and hearing that they are feeling the same way. From those conversations, it seems that the feelings at least in part, come from our constant introspection to ensure that we’re adding value and meeting expectations, and while in extreme cases these feelings can be crippling, often I think it fuels us/me to work harder to provide the best ROI for any organization that has entrusted me with the responsibility.”
Best personal and/or professional advice received from another woman?
“The best professional advice I can share is to remember to always give yourself credit,” said Maria. “A woman once told me that even if we don’t have an impressive title or designation, our work speaks for itself. You may have been performing a manager’s role without even realizing it.”
For Britt, it’s community-fueled ongoing support and advice. She said, “The best advice I’ve gotten is to stop second-guessing myself, but what’s been more beneficial than any advice is just the support that I’ve received from other women. Being able to pick up the phone and call my mentor or others I’ve built relationships with over the years, talk to them about anything I may be going through, and know that they will listen and be understanding and supportive (even if it’s with some tough love) is invaluable and something I’m extremely grateful for.”
And while the gender pay gap is shrinking as of 2023, unequal pay for women is still very real. Jocelyn said, “The advice I got was in the form of some tough love from a mentor, to know my worth, and she very much meant that in a financial sense. I’ve been particularly bad about this in the past, way too modest and passive, like ‘oh you know, whatever, just happy to be here!’ But that’s nonsense. Being prepared to have the money conversation and standing up for yourself on your own behalf when asking for a raise or when offered a new job or promotion is essential.”
A nugget of advice for women who want to do more in their careers
Britt is all about getting started today. She said, “Don’t wait until you feel comfortable doing something to try it. If I only applied for the jobs I thought I would get or only done the thing I knew I would succeed at, my personal life and professional career would have looked very different.”
In closing, a bit about Hasura’s culture and what we’re most excited about
“At Hasura, we are fundamentally changing the way organizations and developer teams build and maintain their software,” said Andrea. “I am so excited to see us change how companies develop today. I am also excited about the culture and diverse backgrounds of all of my colleagues. As an organization, we are welcoming, encouraging, supportive of healthy challenges, and always empowering one another.”
Vaishnavi wraps it all up quite nicely: “One thing I’m super excited about is the sheer diversity of people at Hasura, not just in terms of gender but life experiences across the world. I love how open and welcoming our team is here. We have rock musicians, polyglots, clothing designers, and firefighters… all exceptional in their professional fields also. I think this is a great culture we’ve fostered, where growth in who you are personally and professionally goes hand in hand. I think the five Hasura values we live by, which I think are great personal values to imbibe also, speak for the culture of the company.”
So there you have it. As we bring March and Women’s History Month to a close, we give one last salute to all those who paved the way for us, all those who propped us up, and all those who continue to inspire us along the path to true workplace equality.
“We’re strongest when we all cheer each other on.” – Serena Williams