Last October, I together with Dr. Kaifu Lee went to Nanjing University to make a lecture to discuss Google technologies. After the speech was concluded, one female schoolmate asked a question which got me so surprised.
She said: "I am majoring in the software engineering, and like this speciality . But if is it not so appropriate for a female student to study this? Do you believe that I should look for an opportunity to change my profession? "
I asked: " Why you think female students are not suit to study the software engineering? "
"Once ladies reach their 30's, the physical strength and the intelligence is going to fade, and thus they can not catch up their male colleagues. "
This is the first time I heard so concrete the sex discrimination and very startled. As a female software engineer, unavoidably, I usually heard some suspicions regarding femail engineers and their abilities. I thought that the biggest dangers originated from these suspicions will have affected one's self-confidence.
I was born in Beijing, but immigrated to USA together with my parents who went to USA to pursue their higher eduction when I was five years old. My father is a mathematics doctor, my mother attentively fosltered me since my childhood, therefore I did very good at the mathematics when I was still very young. When I was ten-years-old, I already started to attend the fluxionary calculus classes in the neighboring university, thereafter I jumped three grades and enrolled California Institute of Technology on my 15-year-old age. Now it says this so simply, but at that time my experiences frequently encountered others' opposition, having veen told I was too young, could not learn well, or even told that the feminine is not competent in pursuing computer studies. I didn't mind such suspicions and thought that these speeches were very ridiculous. Of course, I must thank my beloved parents who didn't take them as a matter. Finally, that I had smoothly completed all of my studies, had proven with the fact what I had done is right, these so-called "prediction" also collapsed of itself instantly.
After my graduation, I worked as an engineer for five years in a big software company in USA before I attended Google Inc. It has already been two years and a half since working here. In Google, I first time had so many outstanding feminine examples. Our company now has six female vice- President, two female board memembers, it is certain that there are also many female engineer inspector-generals, female engineers and so on..... At present my boss is also a female manager-in-charge . She is my first female boss, I have learned a lot of abilities which many females excels from her, for instance, how to have others adopt your viewpoints while at the same time not hurt their sentiments et al (BTW, she also is Chinese from China).
Google recongnize that the female staffs can give the company some new angles of view in many aspects . Co-founder Larry Page has requested last year that our Human Resources Department enroll 25% of female software engineers in the recruitment, but this should not compromise the enrollment standard as the premise. Therefore Google spent alot of strenght and also time to seek female engineers, by the means of inviting them to be interviewed. Of course, this is not just ORALLY promising--Larry specially transferred 1/3 staffs of Human Resources Department to recruit female engineers. Eventually, the percentage of our female engineers last year was increased from 13 % to 19 % within 6 months. Every several months, Google invite students of the first or second to visit the company, converse them with the staff. For those girls, Google continuously encourage them to study the science and the computer well.
Google also requests that there should have at least one female interviewer in the process of interviewing. If the interviewee was found to have the sex discrimination, he/she should not be recruited, no matter how this person is intelligent. Regarding this, I have one my very own experience. Two years ago, one of my male colleagues and I co-interviewed a male applicant. At that time I have tested him a difficult problem, but when he replied, he spoke only to my male colleague, while ignoring me. During this 45-minutes interviewing, I felt it more and more uncomfortable. Afterwards, I interpolated my worries to the interview feedback. Another my female interviewer expressed the same feeling. Finally, this applicant was rejected the enrollment to him although he performed very well in other aspects.
Actually, Google can be sensed that it minds female staff's value from many details. When software companies celebrate their achievements, they commonly offer free T-shirts to the employees. Google is not exceptional. Normally these companies have more male staffs than female ones, they only order male sizes and distrube them, that's why I kept alot that can only be serverd as the bed clothes. However, Google will always order three sizes of Large, Middle and Small for its female employees. Each time when different branches celebrate their periodical achievements, Google can always select the activity that the male and female staffs all like, for instance, listening to the scene crosstalk and so on, but not merely look at the racing match or the baseball event.
Though I am very lucky that I have a lot of outstanding female software engineers and colleagues when working at Google, sometimes I still think that perhaps other companies' females do not have the company to support them like Google. I want to take this opportunity to encourage those home-and-abroad female software engineers to BELIEVE IN YOURSELF, LET THE SUSPICIONS TO WOMEN VANISH!
Happy March Eighth International Working Women's Day!
On Engineer Party, three Google females and company senior project vice- president Alan Eustace
From left to right: Wang Xin (author), Maureen, Zheng Shaomin, Alan Eustace