*By Amanda Rowles, Head of the Women in Wireless San Francisco Chapter and Director of Marketing at Livingly Media

As an active member and the Head of the Women in Wireless community in San Francisco, I was thrilled to hear about our alignment with the International Women’s Day celebration within the theme #BeBoldForChange on March 8th. The campaign called on us all to forge a better working world that is more inclusive and gender equal. It inspired us to highlight successful female leaders while also examining the barriers faced by women who immigrated to the US to work in the tech space.

The World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186. Currently, women make up only 30 percent of the total workforce in tech and when you drill down into leadership roles, that number comes down significantly. This is all despite the fact that studies show companies with different points of view, market insight, and approaches to problem solving have higher sales, more customers, and larger market share than their less-diverse rivals. This explains one of the reasons why the tech industry heavily relies on hiring workers from other countries and with the current political climate, this feels like a valid topic to explore further.

Our Be Bold For Change panel consisted of 5 inspirational women at top companies in the Bay Area, who spoke to an audience of over 100 attendees.

4 inspirational quotes from our panelists:

1.“I found my voice first when I kept being told to speak louder. I literally found my voice!” – Sharon Ly, Twitter

For many of us, finding our voice in the workplace can be difficult, especially as the only female in the room. Sharon literally found her voice by speaking up in meetings and making her insight known. This helped her get the attention of executives at her company and advance her career.   

 2 . “I’m not working as a woman, I’m working as an individual, working side by side with everyone.”Gargi Adhav, Drawbridge

The epitome of what we hope to accomplish by campaigning for #BeBoldForChange. Gargi is lucky to have a supportive and inclusive work environment that motivates her as an individual. Companies should seek to empower their employees as individuals unbiased of their gender

3. “Humility is one of our values, no one thinks they are better than anyone else.”Mada Seghete, Branch

As an entrepreneur, Mada has had her share of success and failure – as any entrepreneur would understand. By promoting a culture of humility, she feels like she can try new things without the fear of embarrassment that can come with failing.  

4. “When asked where I’m from, I say ‘Earth’ because we are all from the same place.” – Marjan Fariba, Sherlock Thumb

Marjan’s outlook on what it means to be an immigrant is that it doesn’t matter which country you originally came from because we are all human and that ties us together. Her outlook has propelled her to always take on new challenges – even if it means inventing new products or technologies.

Panelists  bios:

Sharon Ly, Senior Engineering Manager @ Twitter leading the direct messages team. She has been with the company for almost 7 years and founded the internal engineering group – Women at Twitter while also running the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program for 4 summers.

Hao Trong, Engineering Manager @ Uber with 20 years of engineering experience including 9 years in different technical roles at Yahoo! and most recently as the VP of Engineering at Foodzie – a web-based shopping company that enables high quality artisan food producers to directly sell their products to consumers. Hao originally came to the United States as a refugee from Vietnam and her family literally fled for their lives.

Marjan Fariba, CEO & Founder @ Sherlock Thumb Inc., a super keyboard for mobile messaging that allows for easy searching and filtering of information. Marjan is an entrepreneur who decided to start not one, but two companies simultaneously. She also serves as CEO of Cocoon Inc., a high-tech, by invitation only, mobile real estate brokerage company geared toward corporate employees. In her spare time, she is very involved in her community as well as a published author and motivational speaker. Marjan originally came to the United States from Iran as a young girl, fleeing the country in advance of a political coup.

Gargi Adhav, Senior Director of Engineering @ Drawbridge heading the Graph and Data Engineering team which forms the core of the Ads Business at Drawbridge. Previously, she was the Director of Analytics at Cisco Systems, where she was responsible for over $150 million of business. Gargi also has experience in startups, networking and is the author of 26 patent submissions. Gargi was born and raised in India and came to the US to study

Mada Seghete, Co-Founder @ Branch, a company that provides solutions that unify mobile measurement and user experience across devices, platforms and channels; powering deep linking for over 15,000 apps and 1.5 billion users around the world. Mada was born and raised in Romania and came the US to study Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell University and earned her Masters of Engineering and an MBA from Stanford.

Here are some photos from the IWM event in San Francisco: