16 Inspiring Women Engineers To Watch

Women’s engineering school Hackbright Academy is excited to share some updates from graduates of the software engineering fellowship. Check out what these 16 women are doing now at their companies – and what languages, frameworks, databases and other technologies these engineers use on the job!

Software Engineer, Aclima

Tiffany Williams is a software engineer at Aclima, where she builds software tools to ingest, process and manage city-scale environmental data sets enabled by Aclima’s sensor networks. Follow her on Twitter at @twilliamsphd.
Technologies: Python, SQL, Cassandra, MariaDB, Docker, Kubernetes, Google Cloud

Software Engineer, Eventbrite

Maggie Shine works on backend and frontend application development to make buying a ticket on Eventbrite a great experience. In 2014, she helped build a WiFi-enabled basal body temperature fertility tracking device at a hardware hackathon. Follow her on Twitter at @magksh.
Technologies: Python, Django, Celery, MySQL, Redis, Backbone, Marionette, React, Sass

User Experience Engineer, GoDaddy

Terri Wong is in the user experience and design group at GoDaddy, where she helps bring innovative product concepts to life in design and development. She helps define and deliver new features, testing new concepts. Follow her on Twitter at @terriwonglee.
Technologies: JavaScript, React, Node, Less, SCSS, Framer, Sketch, Figma, InVision

Software Engineer, Google

Nicole Ziemlak spent over a year as a software engineer at Minted developing their e-commerce infrastructure after Hackbright, then joined the Google Store team to help build an e-commerce platform to sell the latest hardware from Google. Follow her on Twitter at @imnikkiz.
Technologies: Java, JavaScript, HTML/CSS, and a host of Google proprietary technologies

Data Engineer, IMVU

Marlene Hirose is a data engineer at IMVU, where she maintains and creates tools for automation of data ETL for use by data analysts and scientist. She joined IMVU as a consultant, and celebrated her one year full-time-versary this week! Follow her on Twitter at @mariki816.
Technologies: HiveQL, Hadoop, Scala, Spark, Python, Tableau

Software Engineer in Test, Kahuna

Shilpa Sirur works in software development at Kahuna to design and execute testability of a product feature, providing feedback on its quality. Prior to attending Hackbright’s engineering fellowship, she worked as a QA engineer at SurveyMonkey for two years.
Technologies: Python, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, Pytest, Nosetests, Unittests, Jenkins, Testrail, Sauce Labs, Google App Engine, SQL

Software Engineer, New Relic

Erika Arnold writes stable, lightweight machine code at New Relic that monitors the performance of customers’ applications. She gives back by volunteering as a Mentor at Hackbright Academy from the New Relic Portland office. Follow her on Twitter at @erikabugs.
Technologies: C, Go, PHP, Python, Docker

Software Engineer, Radius Intelligence

Susan Chin is a software engineer at Radius Intelligence, where she aggregates data to pass down the pipeline that builds the Radius Business Graph. She joined Radius first as an engineering intern after Hackbright, and is now full-time. Follow her on Twitter at @susancodes.
Technologies: Python, Spark, Databricks, AWS (S3, EC2, EMR, RDS), PostgreSQL, Kubernetes, Docker, Ansible, Rundeck

Application Engineer, Slack

Carly Robinson works as an application engineer at Slack – building product features, design and implement API methods, and improve performance and reliability of Slack’s backend infrastructure. Follow her on Twitter at @carlyhasredhair.
Technologies: PHP, MySQL, Hack/HHVM, AWS, Solr, Redis, Java, Linux

Software Engineer, Square

Liana Lo is building the payment routing system behind Square Cash along with a front-end admin user interface for simple payment routing rule management. After Hackbright, she worked as a full-stack developer at Prezi for a year before joining Square. Follow her on Twitter at @lilohacks.
Technologies: Java, MySQL, Ruby, JavaScript

Lead Software Engineer, SurveyMonkey

Louise Fox is the tech lead for the mobile team at SurveyMonkey, where she’s been working for over 3 years. Her role involves code reviewing, new features, and creating React patterns for other people to use. Follow her on Twitter at @kaboomfox.
Technologies: Python, Node, React, sometimes Java and Objective C

Technology Leadership Program I Engineer, Target

Paola Socorro is in her first rotation in Target‘s Technology Leadership Program, where she is building APIs and restructuring the CI/CD pipeline to meet the newest standards. Follow her on Twitter at @paromi.
Technologies: Java, Groovy, Scala, Spock, Springboot, Gradle, Chef, Jenkins, Artifactory, Nginx, node-proxy, Gatling, Openstack

Software Engineer, Terra Bella (Google)

Danielle Levi works on the front-end web application at Terra Bella (acquired by Google), enabling order entry for satellite imagery and status tracking in the imaging pipeline. She is currently volunteering as a mentor at Hackbright Academy. Follow her on Twitter at @danislevi.
Technologies: JavaScript, Polymer, (Google) Closure, Karma/Jasmine

Software Engineer, Uber

Theresa Cay is a software engineer at Uber on the developer experience team in core infrastructure. She works to increase developer productivity and efficiency through automation, tooling, and information. Follow her on Twitter at @theresa_clare.
Technologies: Go, Java, Python, JavaScript, Tornado, Flask, Node, React, MySQL, Jenkins, Puppet, Vagrant, AWS (EC2 & S3), Elasticsearch, Sphinx, Phabricator, Git

Software Engineer, Wantify

Breanna Turcsanyi is a software engineer and team lead at Wantify. She leads a team of 6 at an early-stage startup, building a product for small businesses with scalable, modular architecture that allows for feature changes and future adjustments. Follow her on Twitter at @br3annalynnn.
Technologies: SCSS, JavaScript/JQuery, Angular, C#/ASP.NET MVC, SQL Server, Azure, ElasticSearch, Xamarin / Xamarin Forms (mobile)

Software Engineer, Yelp

Katherine Wu develops full-stack features at Yelp to facilitate advertisement sales flow. A former teacher, Katherine took the part-time course at Hackbright before joining the 12-week full-time engineering fellowship program at Hackbright.
Technologies: Python, MySQL, JavaScript, Cheetah, SCSS, Git, Bash

We are so proud of our Hackbright engineering fellowship alumnae for getting to where they are today. Through their hard work at the fellowship, combined with learning outside of the classroom and on-the-job training, they have developed into talented and respected engineers I am honored to know.

Hackbright Goes to PyBay!

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 12.32.07 PMFormerly an internal tools software engineer, Meggie Mahnken is now happy to be an instructor for Hackbright Academy’s 12-week software engineering fellowship for women.  After much soul-searching years ago, she parted with studies in social cognition and feminist theory to become a software engineer. When she’s not computering, she enjoys modern dance, delis, and public speaking. Follow her on twitter @megthedeveloper.

The Hackbright Fellowship Education Team had the pleasure of attending PyBay,  the inaugural SF Bay Area Regional Python Conference. In planning this conference, the organizers (Simeon Franklin and Grace Law) hoped that it would be akin to the largest Python conference, PyCon, but specific to the Bay Area. 

PyBayWalking into the conference on the first full day, I recognized some familiar faces: Hackbright alumna, fellow engineers I’ve seen/talked to at various Python meetups, and even some people I’d consider to be Python celebrities, such as Raymond Hettinger (core Python language contributor, but more importantly to me, answerer of many amazing Stack Overflow questions about the innards of Python).

Breaking it Down

There were roughly 38 talks, in addition to 20 five-minute lightning talks (one of which I gave!). In the closing statements, the organizers boasted that attendance was 25% women; this announcement was met with applause. The speakers at PyBay were 21% women, including the first keynote speaker. Comparatively, at PyCon 2016, 40% of talks were given by women. Talks were helpfully labelled in the program as either Data, Web, or Fundamentals and Performance.

For readers who haven’t attended a conference, I think it might be helpful to describe what a programmer– myself, in particular– hopes to get out of a tech conference. The promise of inspiration is what initially excites me about a whole weekend devoted to the primary language in which I code. When I attend a conference, I like to learn about a new library, code pattern, or an idea for a new side project. Other reasons I attend (in no particular order): to meet other Python programmers, to push myself to explore unfamiliar/advanced modules in the Python Standard Library, to get updates about how Python is currently growing and changing, and to critique other people’s explanations of things that I already understand. The last point is not meant to be arrogant or judgmental. When teaching Python to new engineers at Hackbright, it’s helpful to be thoughtful about which metaphors and examples work, and which don’t.

Flask and Familiarity

Armin Ronacher’s talk on flask.

This was the first time the education staff was able to attend a Python conference together. We found that the types of things we teach at Hackbright are exactly the kinds of things Python programmers like to talk about at conferences– Python memory subtleties, HTTP protocol and cryptography, runtime and performance. Many of the talks reminded us of lectures we give at Hackbright while others helped us deepen our knowledge of the technologies we teach. For example, we attended a talk about Flask, the Python web framework we teach at Hackbright, given by one of the original authors of Flask, Armin Ronacher. It was delightful to see so many familiar code snippets up on the screen in a different context than our cozy lecture hall.

Wesley Chun

Wesley Chun’s talk on Python memory.

Personally, I wasn’t prepared for the extent to which educators are celebrated and even admired in the Python community. Some of the most popular and well-attended talks were not given by people who write mountains and mountains of code for big tech companies every day, but by people who teach Python for a living. Wesley Chun’s well-attended, lively, and informative talk on Python memory was reinforcing to me both in the sense that we are teaching relevant Python concepts at Hackbright, but also that teaching Python well is just as impressive and important to the community as writing code.

One of the talks that delivered particularly well (in the area of learning new libraries and new concepts) was Python Profiling & Performance: Elementary to Enterprise, given by Mahmoud Hashemi. Mahmoud took a Pythonic approach to understanding performance. Pythonistas (people who write Python) believe in practicality over purity. So, Mahmoud emphasized the importance of optimizations that actually matter, discouraging his audience from micro-optimizing their code. Improvements that you make to your code only matter in relation to the greater context. Can you make a small improvement to code that factors hugely in performance, versus a huge improvement to something that doesn’t play a huge part in determining the performance? It’s easy to waste time making meaningless improvements.



Speaking about a memory optimization technique for object-oriented Python programming.

The Lightning Round

On the first day, I was pleased to hear that lightning talks slots were open to anyone wishing to give a 5-minute talk of their choosing. I seized the chance to present on a technical topic at a Python Conference, choosing to speak about a memory optimization technique for object-oriented Python programming. I signed up on the morning of the last day of the conference for a slot later that day. Throughout the day, something funny happened: though I lecture for 90 minutes at a time at Hackbright as many as 4 or 5 times a week, I immediately started feeling incredibly nervous about a minuscule five minute tech talk. I tried to distract myself throughout the day by trying to deploy my slide deck to my slightly ancient personal website, which helped a bit. Debugging old, crappy code that I wrote always calms me down. With the support and a couple of heroic code reviews from my coworkers, the talk went well. I was even able to show off one of the performance profiling tools I had learned about that morning, bringing the conference full circle for me.

Thanks to all the PyBay organizers and volunteers, and thanks to Hackbright for sending the Education Team to learn “all the things”! I can’t wait until next year.

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Hackbright’s Education Team and alumnae!

Hackbright Academy is the leading engineering school for women in San Francisco dedicated to closing the gender gap in the tech industry. Learn more about our full-time software engineering fellowshipIntro to Programming night courses, volunteer mentor opportunities, and how to partner with us to hire female software engineers and #changetheratio of women in tech!