Women in Product Management - Perilous Path or Rewarding Roadmap? (Xenia Kwee) ProductCamp Boston 2014


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An opportunity to network with other women in product management/product marketing and share stories. What unique challenges do women face? What unique capabilities do women bring to the role? How have you gone about finding role models or mentors? How have you gone about overcoming obstacles? A session filled with stories, facts, ideas, observations, and jokes.

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Women in Product Management - Perilous Path or Rewarding Roadmap? (Xenia Kwee) ProductCamp Boston 2014

  1. 1. Women in Product Management-Marketing Rewarding Roadmap Or Perilous Path? 2014 Boston Product Camp –Xenia Kwee – xenia@prouductive.com
  2. 2. Rewarding Roadmap • Product Management/Marketing is a very rewarding career path • It provides an opportunity to excel and make a very visible contribution to a company’s success • It requires skills that women appear to be good at – Cross functional leadership – Creativity
  3. 3. Breaking Boundaries The role of a product manager is really all about breaking boundaries. It is being able to see what is relevant today and dreaming up what will be relevant tomorrow. The best advice I have for girls and women seeking a product management role is to stay in the forefront of an industry that interest them. Understand how technology can better that industry, and look for technical opportunities to make that happen. 2014 Pentaho Blog Michelle Bradbury, Director of Product Management at Pentaho
  4. 4. Higher Collective Intelligence The product manager ideally does not take credit for the deep skills of the people with whom she works. Instead, she works as a peer to draw the necessary connections between them and keep them in sync. She pays attention to the existing self-organization of small groups of smart people and sympathetically exerts soft power to try to leverage their skills on a larger scale, without wrecking what they already do well. She does not build from the ground up, but helps fit pieces together—horizontally. (This less dominant, more agile approach—call it “peer-to- peer managing”—may be part of why teams with more women seem to have higher collective intelligence.) 2011 Harvard Business Review Article Anita W. Woolley, Assistant Professor Of Organizational Behavior Carnegie Mellon University
  5. 5. The Age of the Product Manager 2013 Slate Article As a Google product manager and later executive, Marissa Mayer was credited with enforcing a rigid vision across Google’s user-facing properties; she became the linchpin of integration between products, and she kept tabs on every engineer and designer, high and low. Her confidence and meticulousness are far more valuable than the business connections of the overentitled, macho executives she replaced.
  6. 6. There is really no reason not to try Simo believes the digital industry can offer the most exciting and rewarding careers for women today, and when asked what advice she would arm young women with as they consider taking a job in digital, she says they should “dream big”. “Don’t be afraid of failing. In the digital industry in particular, the barriers to entry to testing new ideas are so low that there is really no reason not to try. And when you dream big you are more likely to inspire people who will support you and are less likely to fail in the end anyway,” she adds. Fidji Simo, Product Manager Facebook 2014 The Drum Interview
  7. 7. Perilous Path • Women who work in Product Management in High Tech companies face a lack of respect, unconscious bias, and isolation • There is a lack of role models • The number of women getting technical degrees in the US is decreasing
  8. 8. A Lack of Respect We don’t celebrate women going into Product Management. Instead, we couch it as “well women don’t feel comfortable going into pure technology.” We emphasize that “the role is full of soft skills.” We discuses how it’s “non- threatening,” for developers to have female PMs. Then we assert that “pure technologists are the ones with all the respect.” When we talk about men going into Product Management it’s framed in a completely different light. “He wanted more scope.” “He wanted more control over the direction.” We fit the role into masculine traits of leadership and control. We view it as a step towards company leadership. The media rarely, if ever, applies those traits to women in PM. 2014 Women 2.0 Blog Ellen Chisa, Product Manager Kickstarter
  9. 9. Gender Bias in High Tech Laura Sherbin, Director of Research at the Center for Talent Innovation Gender bias underpins why women either don’t think they can get ahead or are choosing to leave their organizations. One-third of U.S. women in what the report calls “lab-coat, hard-hat and geek workplace cultures” feel excluded from social networks at their jobs (that number is 53 percent in India). Meanwhile, 72 percent of women in the United States and 78 percent of women in Brazil perceive bias in their performance evaluations. http://2012 Washington Post Article
  10. 10. A Lack of Diversity 2014 NPR Report A lack of diversity means fewer ideas, perspectives and pushback that come with a varied and eclectic group of folks at the table. It can lead to the perpetuation of “brogrammer culture," where it's an accepted norm for "booth babes" to hawk your products while wearing a few strips of clothing, to have no shame presenting a titstare app designed to show you different sets of breasts, or to anonymously swarm women on the Internet with rape threats and beyond. Elise Hu, Technology and Culture Reporter
  11. 11. Salary Inequity 2013 NPR Report Catherine Bracy, Director of Community Organizing Code for America According to the Measure of America's , women make 49 cents for every dollar a man makes in Silicon Valley. That figure is 77 cents on the dollar for the rest of the country.
  12. 12. Isolation, Lack of Role Models Women in technical fields face isolation, lack of access to influential social networks, mentors, lack of sponsorship, and a lack of role models. Ongoing work-family pressures affect technical women’s retention and advancement. Unwelcoming organizational cultures hurt the recruitment and retention of technical women. Persistent unconscious biases keep women’s representation in technology low. Research from the Anita Borg Institute Dr. Anita Borg (1949-2003)
  13. 13. What we Learned at Product Camp We had a session attended by veteran product managers, novice product managers, students, researchers, and others We used the chart that follows to • Share stories about our rewarding roadmap • Share stories about our perilous path • Provide each other tips Thank you to all who participated. I learned a lot and would love to keep in touch ! Xenia Kwee xenia@prouductive.com
  14. 14. This is a very visible position I can make a difference Look at Kim Polese, Marissa Mayer, Lucinda Duncalfe I was raised to do this: build teams, foster relationships, listen, create, innovate I am often the only woman on the team I was not raised to do this: compete, demand, dictate I am perceived as less accomplished than male colleagues Find a mentor Be a mentor Percentage of women in STEM is going down Raises and advancement for women lag behind those for men Practice the skills you need Leaning In Stepping Up I get a chance to work cross functionally MYREWARDINGROADMAPMYPERILOUSPATH MY ADVICE