Heather Brunner, CEO of WP Engine, participated in an afternoon tea party for women in tech at the Great Britain House in downtown Austin to discuss female leadership in technology. The event and panel included a discussion around the economic and social benefits of supporting strong female leadership in technology fields.

“I believe that diversity attracts diversity. You can’t be it if you can’t see it.” – Heather Brunner

Brunner discussed how it’s imperative for technology companies to bring together and build communities including women and people of all ethnicities and beliefs. She then presented on some of WP Engine’s diversity statistics:

  • 60% of executives are women
  • 31% of non-exec management are women
  • 26% of employees are women
  • 28% of employees are non-white
  • 33% of employees have no college degree
  • There is gender equality in payment

Following the speaker introductions and a deeper discussion, panelists invited the guests to ask questions:

(Left to right) Nadya Powell of The Sunshine Company, Heather Brunner of WP Engine, and Sara Brand of True Wealth Ventures answer audience questions. Antonia Romeo moderated the event.

Here are a few of the questions that were asked:

Q: What advice do you have for women with an idea to start their own businesses?

Heather Brunner: If you have an idea, don’t let not knowing every competency around running a business deter you from pursuing that idea. You can form a team later to help you with the things you might not know how to do.

Q: What’s an influential book you’ve read?

Heather Brunner: I love the book The Hard Thing About Hard Things. Being a leader, whether male or female, requires courage and requires you to do things that are difficult. The advice offered in the book is applicable to leaders at all levels.

Q: What advice do you have for women who want to have these conversations about women in tech, especially when it’s all men?

Heather Brunner: It’s important to ask the question, “what can we do as leaders to have more diversity in the workspace?” If you find yourself in an environment that doesn’t value diversity, fine somewhere that’s more adaptable. I think it is critical that men are our partners in business and that we don’t isolate them. It’s about educating them about diversity.

Q: Who do you look up to?

Heather Brunner: Elise Nelson from Vital Voices. The UN has also been doing a fantastic job of tracking women, and posting statistics on women globally.

Q: What is your silver bullet?

Heather Brunner: I would encourage everyone in the room to ask questions, like why is my company not paying equal pay for equal work? Are women and men paid equally? If not, what can we do to change it?

For more on today’s tech talk, follow @UKTIUSA and search the hashtag #UKandSXSW.