GeekWire

Advancing Women in Product expands to Seattle to provide new resources and role models

VIEW ORIGINAL ARTICLE

 

When Advancing Women in Product co-founder and CEO Nancy Wang was first starting to work in product management, she didn’t have a role model.

Wang, who is now the senior product manager at Palo Alto, Calif.-based data management startup Rubrik, felt like there weren’t enough high-ranking women in the technical field that she could look up to. Wang has long been the first and/or only woman on product teams in a career that includes stints at Google, where she worked on Google Fiber; and Rubrik, where she is the first female product manager. She has also been a venture capital partner at California Technology Ventures.

“For folks who are in, as we call it, the next-gen leadership stage, it’s really important for them to have the adequate mentorship and role models,” Wang told GeekWire. “To be like, hey, I see Sheryl Sandberg, who’s done a lot to empower women in the whole Lean In movement, but someone in a more technical capacity, and being like, I can be her in 10 to 15 years. And I just didn’t have that.”

That feeling, and the desire to change it, resulted in the creation of AWIP in 2017. Wang and her co-founder Deepika Yerragunta, a senior product manager on the Amazon Alexa team, set out to create an organization specifically for women in product roles.

AWIP has grown rapidly and is now expanding to tech markets outside of Silicon Valley, including Seattle, Washington D.C., Paris, and Toronto.

AWIP reports more than 3,000 members, with 2,000 of those women and the rest male advocates. The organization offers mentorship programs, where members can meet one on one with accomplished ambassadors in the field. Such ambassadors include Cisco product manager Subha Govil, LinkedIn product manager Nitin Julka, and Google product manager James Morehead.

In addition to mentoring programs, AWIP offers resume workshops, an executive summit, an executive speaker series with the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, and a job board.

The expansion was an easy decision. Wang said that members asked for local chapters and local events. Though membership in AWIP is concentrated in the Bay Area, Seattle comes in second in terms of members. She said 15 percent of AWIP members are based in Seattle.

AWIP is also planning on expanding its programming. The nonprofit is sponsored by Yelp and DocuSign, and has partnered with Wharton, Workday, WeWork, and Facebook. AWIP will host more events, including technical seminars like “Cloud SaaS Products for Hyperscale.”

Wang has also said that in the future, AWIP wants to add programming focusing on female founders, facilitating connections between venture capitalists and first time female founders.

With its expansion to Seattle, AWIP is joining a growing regional ecosystem of groups focused on gender diversity in tech, including Seattle-based Female Founders Alliance and F Bomb Breakfast Club, among others.

“It actually makes me really happy to see there’s so many programs and organizations out there that are tackling that problem,” Wang said. “For Advancing Women in Product, we want to be product-centric, especially given that’s where my core competencies are, and that’s where most of my networks are, and if you look at the profiles of the ambassadors that we have in our community, that’s where they are.”

And, like a true product manager, she compared the Seattle area expansion to a product. AWIP’s growth is tied to user feedback,and the organization collects a lot. In Seattle, where AWIP is currently building its local leadership team, the first high-priority focus will be increasing the skillset of existing women product managers and helping them grow their careers through seminars and workshops.

“Our membership base in the Seattle-Redmond area say to us, there’s not enough opportunity to help women product leaders grow,” Wang said. “That seems like there are current existing PMs in the area who need more product role models, especially women role models.”