Huffpost Tech writes about Ruchi Sanghvi, who was Facebook’s first female engineer. Its profile portrays Sanghvi–who left the company last year to start her own company Cove soon after marrying a fellow Facebook engineer–as an example of the success of startup meritocracy. But it also shares her views on what she calls the boys’ club and the difficulty of breaking into it at Facebook.
Sanghvi, who didn’t use a computer regularly until college, went on to launch such features as News Feed, which defines the user experience for many people on Facebook. Her rise at the company from when she was one of the first 10 engineers hired illustrates the potential and possibilities for a bright young engineer in the tech field. Given her vantage point and success, her impressions and suggestions stemming from her experiences carry a certain weight.
Sanghvi is from Pune, India, and studied electrical engineering at Carnegie Mellon, where she got used to working in a nearly all male environment.
Sanghvi said she was used to being the odd woman out — she was one of five female students out of 150 in a course in the Electrical Computer Engineering department — and at Facebook, she again found herself on a team with only a handful of female engineers.
Though she looks back fondly on her time at Facebook and describes it as “one of the best companies to be working at right now,” she said her male co-workers enjoyed a certain camaraderie that she could not match or fully penetrate.
“It was difficult to break into the boys’ club,” Sanghvi said. “I wish that females had a similar culture or support network.”
Sanghvi said the male engineers on her team created a “brogramming page,” presumably only for the Facebook “bros” who were programming. She recalls having to change her working style to adapt to the “aggressive” environment, a shift she said affected how she was perceived.
“Engineers are either aggressive or passive aggressive. You need to just dive straight into it, and sometimes there are social repercussions because of it,” Sanghvi explained. “The impression that people had of me was that I was really harsh, hard-edged, brusque and to the point. All of that happened because I am a woman, and I was acting in that kind of environment.”
She had more to share on the topic of mentors and role models, advice for women to be proactive, and praise for the tech industry’s culture of rewarding ability. Read the full profile at Huffpost.
Related: The next Mark Zuckerberg, Happy Engineer’s Day in honor of Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya
(Image: Flickr photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/alexf96/)
Cry me a river. Another post about how women are the lowest rung of society, and the world is bent out to get them.
How many drinks, dinner, gifts, complements, and other such things did this harangued Facebook employee accept from would be suitors without batting an eye?
Another backlash I’ve found with “successful” women, especially in the tech industry:
They >hate< other women, and take every chance to make those women look incapable in the eyes of the male management. One such person comes to mind at my last company, three women actually left the company specifically because of this person.
“Though she looks back fondly on her time at Facebook and describes it as “one of the best companies to be working at right now,” she said her male co-workers enjoyed a certain camaraderie that she could not match or fully penetrate.”
Heh. This is amusing. As a male, I often feel out of place in places which are preponderantly female. I am not part of the camaraderie that females feel when amongst themselves. This is only natural. What does she expect? That men be malleable and bend over backward not being themselves?
Her complaints are kind of rich, coming from a spoiled kid born with a silver spoon in her mouth, who only got richer courtesy the company that supposedly had people that subtly discriminated against her.
“I am not part of the camaraderie that females feel when amongst themselves.”
The irony is, that really doesn’t exist. They all, for the most part, hate each other, especially in a technical work-setting when there are men to impress, none of them want to be seen as a threat.
That’s actually a great question for ruchi.. how many women did you have to denigrate in your travails?
Yeah…that’s really what this post said…because Sanghvi is some illiterate peasant girl in a village somewhere crying about how she was never allowed to learn to read, right?
Not sure, let’s check out her profile on Shaadi.com. Then if we discover she’s ever socialized freely with a male, we can call her out for being a whiny little slut who doesn’t know her place.
If you’re a male, then naturally you wouldn’t feel gender-camaraderie with women. If you’re a woman and genuinely think all women all hate each other, then it’s probably to internally justify why no one likes you.
The article says she “didn’t regularly use a computer until her freshman year of college”. Sounds like she was really rollin’ in rubies back in India…
Anyway, the article isn’t bad, but I wonder why we never see the opposite: what about men working in primarily female-dominated professions like Nursing, K-12 Education, etc? I have a good (male) friend who is a 2nd grade teacher and has described the sexism he’s felt from his overwhelmingly female colleagues. It would be nice to see the perspective from both sides of the fence.
” but I wonder why we never see the opposite: what about men working in primarily female-dominated professions like Nursing, K-12 Education, etc?”
Because society tells men they have to be indestructible titanium nuggets that can withstand any onslaught of emotion, or external force.
“Yeah…that’s really what this post said…because Sanghvi is some illiterate peasant girl in a village somewhere crying about how she was never allowed to learn to read, right?”
No. that would actually be a worthy cause to cry about. If women have problems with the “all boys” network why don’t they get the same advice that racial minorities get when they make similar complaints: start your own thing.
remember this well folks, only ugly women complain about sexism.
Way to derail, James. This post isn’t about how anyone looks. I also didn’t get the sense that she was “crying about” anything or complaining a lot either. She paints a mostly positive picture of her time at Facebook with a few concerns that suggest the reality of being the first and then one of a few female engineers at FB.
You go girl…:)
uhhh Ok Pavani..’a few concerns’? Try biting the hand that feeds you. She woudln’t get one cent of VC funding without ‘former facebook employee’ in her proposal. But that’s just arrogance for you. Again if she was attractive she would have gotten the male attention she felt she was denied.