The month of March is National Women’s History Month and we are proudly celebrating The Women of Yik Yak! National Women’s History Month highlights women's contributions to the past, present & future. On March 8th, our Yik Yak ladies celebrated International Women’s Day and talked shop about what it means to them to be a female working at Yik Yak!
Fun fact: six of our female employees celebrate their "Yakiversary" date in the month of March!
What motivates you to come to work every day?
Shijie: The lively environment and satisfaction of achievement.
Anna: The people, the culture and positive vibes!
Catherine: It's the combination of the type of work I get to do: tackling really interesting and challenging questions for improving our product, and who I get to do it with: I love looking forward to spending the day hashing out these questions with some really smart and fun people.
Jennifer: Being able work with some of the smartest people I know!
Sharon: The people. Everyone is pretty darn cool and laid back. And if I'm honest, the food.
What is one of your favorite memories from your time working at Yik Yak?
Alex: Last March we decided to fill and ship 30,000 Easter eggs to our campus reps! It was a huge endeavor but everyone came together to help the marketing team pull it off. I can say, though, that I would be totally fine if I never saw another Easter egg in my life.
Jennifer: The moment I realized there's a drawer stocked with Dove Chocolate at all times.... #gamechanger
Elisa: One of my favorite memories was visiting Georgia Tech with the field marketing team, talking to students on campus about their Yik Yak experience, and learning just how important Yik Yak has been as a support tool in their academic and social lives. They were so incredibly excited to talk to us. Those raw emotions remind me of why we sit in front of computers so many hours every day, and they provide a compass to guide the future of our company.
Adelaide: Well everyone remembers when Yik Yak's all-women's team beat the all-men's team in a final round of WhirlyBall during the last 30 seconds! (There is photo documentation, for those who don't admit it).
Who is your female role model?
Jennifer: My sister and I are only one year apart in school and two years apart in age - we both actually graduated from Georgia Tech together on the same day! Her creativity and perseverance are things I admire everyday.
Catherine: Grace Hopper, her biography is fascinating and she's the namesake of my favorite conference for women in computing. She was strong willed and followed her passion from teaching to the military, and helped develop one of the first modern computers. She was also a knitter!
Katy: My mom has been, and continues to be, a great role model for me. She holds a high level leadership role in a typically male-dominated field, and has always been a great example of balance. She works incredibly hard, but is always there for everyone in our family. Plus, she's a lot of fun!
Hilary: I don’t have just one person that I look up to, but I admire and try to learn from many who have qualities I’d love to emulate. I’m impressed by women who are confident and decisive in the workplace (Sheryl Sandberg), who seem to build a spectacular family life while also defining themselves and their interests (Michelle Obama), who posses amazing energy and charisma (Julia Roberts), who seem grounded and level-headed (Reese Witherspoon), and of course I love working with talented women day-to-day and being able to ‘study’ them in things like skills of the trade, patience, teamwork, problem-solving, etc.
Who is your female role model, at Yik Yak? And why?
Tracey: I feel every woman at Yik Yak is a role model for me! We cover so many disciplines and bring so many experiences to the table. The key is the authenticity of every woman here. I have had so many real conversations and feel genuine support from the women of Yik Yak.
Shijie: Definitely Tas! She is so smart and a great leader!
Katy: Tracey. She's a great example of a woman excelling on a primarily-male team. She really goes out of her way to mentor other employees at the company and is always willing to take the time to explain something, listen to input, and give advice!
Olivia: I am lucky to work closely with Hilary on the communications team and to have such a supportive female mentor. She empowers people – both men and women, to do their best work in order to make Yik Yak great.
Tas: I can't imagine picking just one person. But if I had to pick based on a skill that I particularly admire, I would say Elisa. She is one of the best listeners and negotiators that I have ever come across.
How has the role of women at Yik Yak changed in the past year?
Julie: To be honest, I haven't noticed - and I mean that in the best possible way. At Yik Yak, we have the very smartest people working on our mission to make the world feel small again - and many of the people just happen to be women.
Alex: I was the second woman to work at Yik Yak, so just seeing the number of women we now have at the company is exciting and inspiring!
Nikki: I started at Yik Yak almost exactly a year ago. In that time the number of women has grown exponentially. We have women in lead roles at this company, taking charge of major projects. We have women overseeing entire teams of engineers, data analysts, PR teams, etc. We have women calling the shots in practically every department of this company, which is incredibly empowering to see!
Anna: Being the first female hired at Yik Yak, I love that we have so many women joining the herd!
What barriers do women face as they try to enter the tech field?
Vasudhara: The under-represented female perspective everywhere - in process, goals and motivations. I remember feeling that my concerns weren't worth voicing at the beginning of my career, but this is rapidly changing thanks to more and more strong, powerful women taking the lead.
Catherine: There are barriers early on, where many girls don't get the reinforcement that boys get about their tinkering skills. Later on, tech roles are often portrayed as being extremely time consuming, difficult, and you need to be "one of them" to fit in. These perceptions create barriers for women of even envisioning a career in tech because they don't see how they will be able to balance everything. I think that the issue doesn't just lie in getting women in the field, but also in helping them stay.
Tas: I've seen talented women with great ideas fall behind their male peers because their ascent to leadership is constantly impeded by those who are hesitant to recognize women as legitimate authoritative figures. In most cases, the perpetrators have no knowledge of their inherent biases. A lot of it has to do with the fact that qualities associated with success have been normalized to favor the male gender. More often than not, a woman must aspire to be like a man to be successful -- aggressive and unemotional are two adjectives that particularly come to mind. This makes it tough for women who fall outside this very rigid patriarchal structure to succeed in male dominated fields -- such as tech.
Elisa: We know we deserve equal opportunities in every area of our life but that right clashes every day with the reality of double standards, implicit bias and other unfavorable human dynamics, even amongst women. Barriers come in all shapes and forms and they vary in severity depending on what type of company you're joining or what type of field you want to start a business in. Don't wear being a woman like a scarlet letter, even when you know that the cards are stacked. Keep your chin up, always give the best you can and don't fall into the trap of playing by the unspoken rules upholding those barriers.
What advice would you give to women who want to work at a tech company?
Julie: Results have no gender. Work hard on projects that you believe in, back-up your opinions with data and let the quality of your work speak for itself.
Olivia: Dive in! There are lots of awesome opportunities out there (and sometimes that can be intimidating – where to start?!). Do your research, find people you trust and can learn from, and make sure your heart is in it. Putting in the time and the effort comes easy when it's way more than "just a job."
Sharon: Know that start-up life is really cool and fun but it's fast-paced. Sometimes it gets hard but it will be really rewarding. Walk in there with confidence, girl!
Elisa: Don't let compromising be your full time job. Make it a top priority to go for it rather than to look good. Protecting a facade will dissipate energy that should be going towards pursuing work that makes you feel whole and allows you to grow. Nothing should take us off course for too long.
Vasudhara: Don't be afraid to be the odd one out. Don't fear voicing an undervalued concern because you want to save yourself from the embarrassment in case it is deemed unimportant. Your unique concerns and thinking will help you build your brand.
Why did you join Yik Yak?
Adelaide: I joined Yik Yak because the team believes in process as progress. Yik Yak saw potential in me and I saw an opportunity to grow and evolve - that's pretty easy to get on board with.
Elisa: Yik Yak's commitment to protecting the product experience and the safety of our users is the number one reason why I decided to join. I believe that when you have a good product and your intentions are good, no one can bring you down.
Tas: I wanted to make a palpable impact at the workplace. Rather than being just another cog in the machine. I wanted to be a part of innovation.
Hilary: Many reasons, obviously... 1) I was incredibly impressed with Tyler and Brooks - we have awesome cofounders who have a vision, are thoughtful in how they go about it, and know how to build a stellar company with great culture. 2) I was really drawn to what Yik Yak does today (connect you to your local community) as well as the multitude of things that can come from or out of that. 3) I love working at smaller companies that are on a great growth path, where each individual has maximum opportunity to have an impact, and where an electric team working on the same mission can make magic happen. 4) On top of that, the whole company is laser-focused on our users and what will make the experience best for them. That’s powerful!
What's your favorite yak / conversation thread that you've seen on Yik Yak?
Anna: I love peeking into my alma mater NC State and still feeling connected even though I graduated!
Vasudhara: Somebody live-yakked their date, and that was fun to follow.
Olivia: My favorite yaks have to be about Miss Sandra. To see the UGA community come together to celebrate a woman who works so hard for them on a daily basis is truly something special.
Shijie: Doge jokes
Katy: I love all of the discussion around the political candidates, primaries/caucuses, and debates. I majored in political science in college, so I never get sick of talking about this stuff!
What’s your favorite use of Yik Yak you’ve seen in a community?
Adelaide: Most recently, it was using Yik Yak to find a hidden geocache near our HQ.
Nikki: I happened to be peeking into The Ohio State University one day & I saw a lot of yaks about a duck who lived on their campus lake and had passed away. The news of the duck's passing was originally posted on Yik Yak, a memorial service was formed on Yik Yak, and even a GoFundMe to raise money for the duck to be preserved was formed on Yik Yak. The entire community gathered together for this one little duck and it was absolutely heartwarming!
Catherine: A yak asking people to join for a group dinner in a specific restaurant in town, and joining everyone there. It was fun to see Yik Yak bring people together and meet-up offline.
Hilary: In Cardiff - where roommates called in pest control after hearing scratching in their wall; they were surprised to find a hamster and yakked about it - and it turned out to be the pet of a neighbor 3 doors down who’d lost the hamster when it crawled through a hole in the wall days earlier!
What’s your go-to power anthem?
Julie: "Uprising" by Muse always gets me fired up!
Sharon: Bad Girls by M.I.A.
Olivia: Rebel Girl by Bikini Kill. Wannabe by The Spice Girls. And Saturday Night Live's Bad Girls Do It Well.
Nikki: Ruff Ryder's Anthem by DMX