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AWIP Aims to Boost Female Presence in Product Management

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An organization that aims to help boost equality in the tech sector is eyeing expansion into new cities and is launching a partnership with the Wharton School of Business.

San Francisco-based AWIP (Advancing Women in Product)’s main mission is to open up opportunities for existing and potential product managers (PMs). It wants to empower quality female and male tech leaders “through equality of opportunity,” according to co-founder Nancy Wang.

The organization plans to establish formal chapters in cities where it sees a critical mass of members. Over the next six months in particular, the group is targeting new chapters in Seattle, New York, and Paris, France, said Wang, who is a lead product manager at Rubrik and a former partner at California Technology Ventures.

Since launching in early 2017, AWIP has grown to more than 3,000 members—about 2,000 of which are women with the remainder being male advocates, according to Wang, who also served as a product manager at Google. Members are spread throughout North America, Europe, and Asia with the heaviest concentration in the Bay Area. Eventually, the organization wants to also open chapters in Chicago, Boston, and Toronto, Ontario in Canada as well. It also wants to establish new programs to boost the networks and careers of product managers.

Nancy Wang

Wang co-founded AWIP with Deepika Yerragunta, senior PM at Amazon Alexa. The premise behind the organization is that PMs are at the core of every tech organization. Part of AWIP’s offerings include a resume review with in-person recruiters from some of tech’s largest companies and executive mentorships. It also offers skills training, panels, executive summits, and other programs are designed to empower product managers of all genders and career levels. AWIP has recently partnered with Yelp (its official sponsor),PinterestWorkdayWeWorkFacebook in addition to the Wharton School of Business.

AWIP also wants to dispel myths that people who go into the product management field must have MBAs or computer science or engineering degrees.

“My VP of product at Google at the time came from a liberal arts background,” Wang said. “It’s our firm belief that whether you are male or female, a minority or not, that if you have the right skill sets and capabilities, you can be a product manager. We want to instill more confidence and leadership skills in women and empower them. We believe part of the reason so few women are in product marketing is not just due to lack of demand from companies, but also the lack of supply of women going into the field.”

Its ambassador program includes Docusign Head of Product Ron Hirson and chief strategy officer of Tradeshift Sarika Garg.

So far, AWIP says it has helped 11 women members successfully land and accept opportunities with major tech companies such as Amazon and Facebook. It has also helped more than 45 women via its resume review service. The cohort reported that AWIP’s services doubled their chances of receiving contacts from recruiters, according to Wang. She estimated that more than 500 women have attended AWIP-sponsored resume workshops.

“Ultimately, we want to help build a self-sustaining ecosystem by which advancement and placement are meritocratic and hiring decisions are made considering diversity,” Wang added.

AWIP’s sponsorship is outlined into two wings: corporate partnerships and in-kind partnership. To date, it has received sponsorships worth about $20,000 from in-kind and corporate sponsors. The donations are directly put towards creating events and services for its member community. It is also anticipating an additional $50,000 in sponsorships that will be used to create unique opportunities for its member community at the 2018 Executive Summit and a Female Founders Program.

“The future is being built by tech firms in Silicon Valley and beyond,” said Tatyana Mamu,  former SVP of Product at Salesforce, in a written statement. “Women – who make up over 50 percent of humanity and 60 percent of graduates with advanced degrees – must be in powerful product roles where decisions are made. Our future depends on advancing women in product and in power. We cannot delay.”