Amanda is the VP of Product at Hotel Tonight, and has an experienced career as a Product Manager in multiple companies and industries. She joined us at Mind the Product to share some of her experiences of being a woman in tech, especially in Silicon Valley.
She starts with an example from a meeting where she was the only woman present and someone showed the viral video about the hot/crazy metric. This seemingly innocuous joke video is just one example of how inappropriate the culture can be in many modern tech companies due to the homogeneity of the mostly white, mostly middle-age, mostly men who run them.
But really, the stories and lessons Amanda shares with us in this talk are for all product managers.
Find and use quantifiable metrics to ensure that you and your product are not being measured or discussed based on opinion but based on fact.
Be demanding and vocal – we have to be loud and clear advocates for our products and our ideas whether the audience is our management team or our engineering team.
Embrace your fear – we have to be willing to accept the challenges presented to us, and admitting when we don’t know something – but we’re going to figure it out. As in our products, failure is acceptable and should even be encouraged as long as we’re learning.
Find a mentor – and a good mentor isn’t someone who is nice to you, but someone who challenges you to work harder and do better.
This was the most controversial talk of the day but it touches on an incredibly important topic so we’re hoping the debate continues. One of the best reactions we’ve seen to Amanda’s talk was by Jobina Hardy in her afterthought post and it’s well worth a read too.
On a personal note, ensuring our teams are as diverse as possible – whether it’s work experiences, industry backgrounds, nationalities, genders or simply ways of thinking is critical. Embracing that diversity of opinion and approach is not only the best way to build great products but the best way to represent the diversity of our users and customers. We can all do better in this regard.