This week, the women who work in the WP Engine engineering department will celebrate Movember and gather together for their annual Movember luncheon. This event serves not only to serve to raise awareness for men’s health on behalf of their male friends and family but also as an opportunity to discuss the excitement, opportunity, and struggle of being a woman in technology.

We talked with Katie Nelson, a WP Engine SRE Team Manager and a key organizer of the event to learn more about the history and motivation around it all.

The first annual Movember photo captured in 2015.

Can you explain how the idea for this lunch came to be?

In November of 2015, the ladies of Engineering wore pink mustaches to show our support of Movember on behalf of our husbands, brothers, fathers and teammates.  We took a ‘capture the moment’ photo with as many engineering women as we could gather at the time. It was met with so much positivity that we decided to do it again this year.

Is it important to you that women in engineering have the opportunity to converse? Why?

Absolutely!  Every successful person I have known attributes some of their success to a mentor or role model. While a role model does not have to be the same gender, having common struggles and backgrounds can be very inspirational. Taking the time to invest in others makes a profound impact, creating inspiration that spans generations.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for a woman in the engineering field?

Self-confidence and assertiveness are two qualities fundamental to any person who is trying to highly achieve in their field.  When I started in tech in the 1990s, women struggled to express their own voice, gain equal pay, and advance their careers in the technology field.  I am happy to say these qualities have been expanding the last twenty years resulting in many successful women in technology.

What advice would you give to someone new to the field?

Work hard, believe in yourself, and hold yourself accountable for achievements against your own standards. Only you know what you are truly capable of.

Why is this event important to the women in engineering and WP Engine as a whole?

People of all ages and backgrounds coming together for a common goal will produce the best outcome. We all have strengths to bring to the table. The more diversity of thought, the greater the outcome when we align for the best solution.  

We all want to make a difference, when we show our support of our teammates, we solidify in unity knowing we’re on the same team. A unified team is better for the community as a whole and the outcomes of WPE.  

One of WP Engine’s core values is Do The Right Thing. The right thing for people and the right thing for success is to arm yourself with all walks of life, all skill sets, and all opinions. Only then can you know that you’ve combined minds for outcomes that are the best of the best.

In addition to luncheons, how else does WP Engine facilitate diversity and equality in engineering?

WP Engine participates in many diversity and equality community and company events. I couldn’t begin to list them but an example of one that WP Engine Engineering specific is we have blind code assessments; a true assessment of quality and ingenuity without any bias.

What is your personal motivation behind the organization of this luncheon?

A passion of mine is reaching the younger generations to help them see that empowerment is an individual responsibility. Encourage taking ownership of one’s own capabilities and seize opportunities to reach their highest aspirations.

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