5 Women Share What It’s Like to Be “the Only” in the Room

womens history month drift

Have you ever walked into a room full of people and realized you were “the only” there?

Some of us know the feeling all too well.

In the U.S., women are consistently underrepresented across the corporate ladder: for every 100 men promoted to manager, only 86 women are promoted. Additionally, in tech, women hold just 25% of computing jobs and 15% of engineering jobs.

At Drift, we know there’s a lot of work to be done. Every day, we strive to create a culture of inclusion, respect, and trust, as well as be a champion for diversity and break the status quo.

But we also know that diversity isn’t just about numbers. It’s also about listening to and acknowledging the experiences that women live.

Here at Drift, we recognize that women have layered identities, and intersectionality matters in this nuanced conversation. Every woman’s experience is unique, but each of their stories has the power to resonate with all women.

That’s why, in celebration of Women’s History Month, we asked five women at Drift to share a time they were “the only” in the room and the lessons they’ve learned throughout their lives and careers.

Ready to meet these incredible women? Let’s go ⚡️

Avrien Anderson

womens history month drift

Avrien is an AI Conversation Designer that joined the Drift team in June 2021. They are a Black, queer, and non-binary person who is also a mother to an eight-month-old boy.

Describe a time when you were “the only” in the room.

Growing up, my Blackness has meant more to me than my womanhood. My mom was a single mother for a really long time, and growing up it was, “Life is going to suck because you’re Black,” and “It’s going to suck more because you’re Black than because you’re a woman.”

That has changed as I’ve gotten older. In college, I realized both my womanhood and my Blackness matter. And that’s when I started to live my queer identity.

Most of the time there will not be a person who even shares one of my identities…unless I become that person. It’s not fair to put that ownership on us though. Companies have to accept the responsibility of elevating people who don’t fit the status quo.

In 2020, women still made only 83% of what men earned. While the gap is less for people aged 25–34, Hispanic women only make $0.57, Black women make $0.64, and Native American women make $0.60 for every dollar earned by white men.

What is one lesson you’ve learned that you want people to know?

I was an eighth-grade U.S. History teacher before coming to Drift. When I was in school, I didn’t see a lot of teachers that looked like me — they were always white men or white women — but, when I became a teacher myself, a lot of my students looked like me.

So I needed to live most authentically and show that you can be you and have a pink mohawk. I can be a good teacher, a lesbian, and a respected member of society. I can be a woman and Black, and not have to look over my shoulder walking down the street. I now own all parts of myself, and I get to be even more all of me because I am a mother. I can have “they/them” pronouns as well as embrace my womanhood.

What is one change you believe we need in the future?

The most important thing to recognize is you can’t see all facets of someone’s identity. If I walk up to a stranger and ask them to describe me, they’ll say, “She’s Black. She’s a woman.”

We rarely ask about the things we don’t see. We only see gender expression and decide if that fits into our binary. We don’t ask about different abilities or whether someone is a mother. You can’t look at me and know I grew up in Germany. Stop putting people into boxes and take a minute to ask.

Kimen Warner

womens history month drift

Kimen has been the VP of Product at Drift since May 2021. She lives in San Francisco, and she recently returned from maternity leave after having her second child.

Describe a time when you were “the only” in the room.

Early on in my career, I was a sales engineer and, whenever I went to customer meetings in person, people treated me like I was an admin or note-taker. When I would do a technical presentation, it was challenging to be taken seriously. So, I started to dress very femininely, wearing a hot pink blouse with pearls, which was a major deviation from my typical style. It was frustrating to have to prove my place but it almost became fun to surprise them even more!

As I became more confident, I started dressing more authentically because it no longer felt necessary. The culture hadn’t changed, but I decided I didn’t have to worry so much about it anymore.

What is one lesson you’ve learned that you want people to know?

As a working mother, one of my biggest challenges is time management. There was one morning when my daughter didn’t like the tutu she had on, so I was late for my first meeting. People glorify working dads but not working moms. Dads bring their children to work and people celebrate them. But when moms do, people ask, “How are you getting work done?”

Mothers are nearly twice as likely as fathers to say taking time off had a negative impact on their job or career. 27% of mothers were treated as if they were not committed to their work.

I love working, and I think it’s important to have my daughters see me working so they understand there are different options. Then, in the future, they know that they have the power to speak confidently, assert themselves, and pave a way forward without apologizing to anyone.

What is one change you believe we need in the future?

It’s important to remember that the arc of history is long. My mom was a computer programmer, and when she went on a business trip while pregnant, people hadn’t seen that before. When she put my brother into daycare and went back to work, people hadn’t seen that either. What I experienced at the beginning of my career would never happen now.

One real tangible change I’d like to see is to not have meetings before 9 a.m. I can’t drop my daughter off for childcare before 8:30 a.m. in the morning. That would make a real difference.

Anabell Jimenez

womens history month drift

Anabell is a Senior Product Manager who has been at Drift for two and a half years. She is passionate about engineering and paving the way for successful products.

Describe a time when you were “the only” in the room.

My first role was working for Pampers in a manufacturing plant. At one point, I had 21 technicians who reported to me. I learned to be effective by being direct and concise when asking for things or making proposals. It helps keep others’ attention and usually, I found my asks addressed. When I see women in similar positions, I don’t hesitate to provide that feedback.

What is one lesson you’ve learned that you want people to know?

I chose to become an engineer because it allowed me to use my creativity to solve problems. That’s actually not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of technical roles but creativity is what you lean on to solve complex problems.

That’s why you need women in tech, especially in leadership roles. Different viewpoints enable teams to innovate. Although I’m now a product manager, I lean into my creative and technical capabilities to build trust and drive collaboration. It’s my favorite part of the job. On my current team, I have the privilege of working with a fellow mother who is an engineering manager. I believe our perspectives and approaches create a wonderful environment to show up to.

What is one change you believe we need in the future?

I would love to see more support for parents from companies. We underestimate how much it helps professionals focus when they are confident in their childcare arrangements. With the pandemic, parents are now juggling more responsibilities while dealing with fewer options for care. It’s leading to burnout. It takes a village to support parents, and I would love to see more effort put towards reinforcing support systems.

Since the pandemic started, one report estimated women with small children took on an extra 20 hours of work each week.

A truly family-friendly workplace provides robust benefits for working parents. I am lucky that Drift has been supportive of me as a working mom. They hired me at five months pregnant and supported my request for a six-month leave. The response was, “Anabell — we want you here for the long run. A few months won’t change how we value you.” We need more of this attitude and support in the corporate world!

Christina Capracotta

womens history month drift

Christina is a Controller who has worked at Drift for almost four years. She spends her days organizing Drift’s finances and being a mom to her two sons.

Describe a time when you were “the only” in the room.

There aren’t that many women in finance, specifically in leadership and executive-level positions. As I have progressed through my career, I have found fewer peers that are women and even fewer that are mothers. And I have never had the opportunity to work directly for a woman in a leadership position that I aspire to be in.

Because of this, I have had to put in the extra effort of seeking out mentors within finance that I can learn from and connect with. When I first started searching for mentors years ago, I quickly realized that there are so many incredible women (and mothers) who are finance leaders that want to and will provide guidance and support to others following in their footsteps. Women supporting women!

What is one lesson you’ve learned that you want people to know?

Perfection is not realistic and being efficient is a necessity. Having two young boys (two years old and seven months old) has forced me to assess things that “need” to get done vs. things that are “nice” to get done. My workday has to be efficient because I no longer have the luxury of working additional hours to make up for inefficiencies earlier in the day. I have become an effective leader by prioritizing and being conscious of my own time.

The only constant is change, so you have to learn how to be agile. I thought I understood this before becoming a mom, but this became even more relevant after. Just when you start to think you have it “all figured out,” a curveball (or sleep regression) will be thrown your way, and you end up having to improvise, brush it off, and just bring the best version of yourself.

What is one change you believe we need in the future?

Companies need to promote flexibility. Working within an organization that not only supports flexibility but consistently promotes it is life-changing. Working in the environment that Drift promotes (for example, being able to work from anywhere) has made me a more effective team member and leader. As a result, I have felt a higher level of satisfaction in both my work and home life.

During the pandemic, four times as many women voluntarily left the workforce and one in four women are considering stepping back in another way, such as a leave of absence or reduced hours.

Grace Smart

womens history month drift

Grace is a Solutions Consultant for our EMEA team. For the past six months, she has helped build Drift’s London team from scratch.

Describe a time when you were “the only” in the room.

I am one of six children, and I have five brothers. So it’s never felt that foreign to me to be the only woman in a situation. A lot of times, I never realized I was “the only,” and I never stopped to think about what that meant. My brothers and father are so supportive, loving, and caring in the way they treat me — so I feel like I’ve been spoiled growing up.

It wasn’t until I got a bit older that I started to realize what being “the only” meant. For some roles, I would be told, “There aren’t many women so you’re definitely going to be fast-tracked.” And I knew that wasn’t positive! It would’ve been better if they told me I was getting fast-tracked because I was really good at my job.

Women are still twice as likely to experience gender discrimination at work than men.

What is one lesson you’ve learned that you want people to know?

When people make biased comments, kill them with kindness. At first, I would get angry and bite back. Now, I challenge them and question what they said. If you find someone you can’t get through to like that, they’re not worth it.

It’s upsetting because I know how hard I work and my friends/colleagues work to be successful. When you first hear those comments, you think you’re an imposter. As I get older, I’ve found that is just the voice in your head telling you bad things.

What is one change you believe we need in the future?

Having more role models in tech roles. My only wish is to have someone I can look up to in my career path.

In one of the tech departments I worked at, there were more women than men — a complete reversal. A lot of the women there were confident, unapologetic, and really kind. They were fair but they knew where the line was. I look up to each and every one of them, and I want to have that kind of balance when I’m a manager.

I also look up to my mom. She taught me to work hard if I want positive results. She’s been a big influence on how I work. My only wish is to have someone I can look up to in my career path.

Resources for Working Mothers

The pandemic has disrupted all our lives in some way, but it has been especially hard for working mothers. Below, we’ve compiled a list of resources that we hope will empower working mothers, as well as help educate companies on how they can support and elevate mothers in the workplace.

  • The Mom Project: A job matching site for working mothers. They also offer upskilling programs, mentorship opportunities, and free workshops. The organization also actively pushes for policy changes to advocate for mothers in the workforce.
  • #ShowUsYour Leave: A campaign launched by theSkimm to push companies to show their family leave policy to garner support for more robust family leave policies. They also offer a deck that employees can use to pitch better leave policies to their C-suite.
  • 81cents: An organization that provides expert advice and a customized action plan to navigate career conversations and close pay gaps for underrepresented minorities.
  • New York Times article with actionable tips for what the government, employers, and spouses can do to support working moms. This is part of the Primal Scream, a series exploring the effect of the pandemic on working mothers.
  • Forbes article that shows how mothers are dropping out of the workforce with ideas on how employers can do to create a more equitable workplace for mothers.

Want to work with these amazing women? We’re hiring. Check out our open roles here.

womens history month drift