Affinity Group Series: Women in Tech

March is a significant month for women around the world with International Women’s Day on March 8. We have so many innovative and powerful women right here at HomeAway, there’s no better time to shine a light on on the work they are doing for our Women in Tech Affinity Group.

Q: How and why was HomeAway Women in Tech founded?

“I was inspired to start the Women in Tech group at HomeAway while attending my first Grace Hopper Conference in 2016.  Mingling with 15,000 female technologists and leaders under one roof was an incredible experience, especially when I considered that they all had one goal: to empower and help women progress in their careers.

Attending the inspirational keynote sessions at Grace Hopper, I thought to myself: “If not me, then who? If not now, when?” I immediately messaged two of my female colleagues back in Austin and presented the idea of starting a Women in Tech group. That evening, I put together a proposal with a summary of our mission and goals for the group and shared the proposal with our HR team. The next day I set up a monthly meeting schedule and began inviting women at HomeAway. Our main goal was to attract and retain top tech female employees at HomeAway. We also agreed we needed to engage in community efforts for promoting STEM-related activities in schools.”

- Anita D., Sr. Director of Engineering

 First HAWIT meeting in Madrid.

First HAWIT meeting in Madrid.

Q: What does it mean to you to be a leader of HAWIT?

“I believe leadership comes from everywhere. All HAWIT members are leaders and responsible for making a difference. Personally, being a leader of HAWIT means having control over the narrative, being positioned in a place where I know I can make an impact, and positively influence and support other women in the technology sector.”

- Denise N., Dir. of Engineering

Q: What’s something you learned since joining the group?

“We started sharing stories during our monthly meetings. Just a few minutes towards the end where you can raise your hand and talk about your career journey or influences in your life. I’ve learned that we have so many women at HomeAway with non-traditional backgrounds or paths to technology. Military spouses, fine arts, women who have climbed out of difficult personal circumstances, and women without traditional engineering degrees. I’ve worked alongside these individuals for several years, but I don’t necessarily know their stories and I think sharing has made me feel more personally connected to the group. The diversity of perspective it brings to the business, our decision making, and our work product is so unique.”

- Abby L., Project Manager, Global Dev Team

 Girls Day at the University of Texas, Austin.

Girls Day at the University of Texas, Austin.

Q: It’s been two years since HAWIT was founded and the group has a huge membership. What was a win for your group in 2017?

“The largest win I can think of is that we are “talking” about issues that affect women at work.  Women feeling comfortable to talk about issues that are at the top of their minds - from asking questions about gender statistics and pay parity to sexual harassment and implicit bias.

We got budget and part of that was to sponsor some amazing women to attend conferences like Society of Women Engineers and Grace Hopper. We also asked and got free sanitary products in the women’s bathrooms!”

- Anita D., Sr. Director of Engineering

 International Women’s Day breakfast in London.

International Women’s Day breakfast in London.

Q: What does HAWIT have planned for 2018?

“Our main goal is to go global starting with the EU. We also want to host more meetups and volunteer opportunities for STEM-related outreach projects.”

- Anita D., Sr. Director of Engineering


Q: Do you connect with other Women in Tech groups outside of HomeAway?

“I’m an active member of the Women Who Code organisation. As part of WWC, I run introductory HTML/CSS coding workshops for women of all ages and backgrounds. I believe it’s a big responsibility to teach introductory coding skills, as most students are usually considering pursuing a career in tech but unsure of their ability to do so. My workshop follows an inclusive and empathetic narrative so all students can build the confidence necessary to code!

HAWIT also recently partnered with Next Tech Girls in London where we hosted two young girls for a ‘work experience’ week.”

- Denise N., Director of Engineering

 Denise N. presenting the WWC Coding Workshop.

Denise N. presenting the WWC Coding Workshop.

 Next Tech Girls presenting to the Search Landing Pages team in London.

Next Tech Girls presenting to the Search Landing Pages team in London.

Q: How can everyone learn more about what HAWIT is doing?

"For employees, a great place to start is the wiki page or you can attend one of the monthly meetings. You can also join the discussion or find out about volunteer opportunities on the #hawit slack channel. For non-employees, the Life at HomeAway Facebook and Instagram are the best places to find out about upcoming community events."

- Martta H., Sr. Manager Product Operations

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