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Right Now is a ‘Window of Opportunity’ For Women in Technology — How to Seize It, From a Director

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Creativity is integral to Kelly Hammond’s career. As director of Chrome and Linux System Architecture, she oversees product design on a series of client projects—leading her team to architect some of Intel’s most impressive products.

But Kelly’s creativity expands beyond her work function. As someone who took on a new job at the beginning of the year, she’s had to reimagine what leadership looks like in 2020. And as a working mother, she’s had to reinvent her workday.

Read the timely advice she has for other working mothers, what she’d say to women in engineering who are trying to take their career to the next level, and why she sees right now as a “window of opportunity” for women in technology.

How did you first become interested in a career in engineering?
In high school I loved art and physics. My mom insisted that becoming an artist wasn’t a good return on investment for four years of college, so I went into undergrad with the intent of majoring in engineering and getting a minor in art but eventually pivoted to keeping art as a hobby. Luckily there can be a lot of room for creativity and new ideas in engineering.

What projects or programs are you currently working on? What about this type of work most excites you?
Every day I make a direct impact on the product design. One exciting thing about this job is you touch almost everything—from silicon design to system hardware to software and functional specialties. There is always a new challenge to dig into.

How does Intel empower women who are pursuing careers in engineering? Do you participate in any employee networks or programs for women in engineering?
Intel has a variety of programs across the company. Our Women In Intel (WIN) network is the global organization. In addition, there are many smaller and more organic groups. For many years I co-led a group that helped women connect with others to facilitate a stronger network, a sense of belonging, and new skill sets.

Currently, I’m participating in a senior women’s cohort to bring more women into Intel’s leadership ranks. My favorite current program is a six-session learning program with about 10 other managers, both men and women, where we explored some of the key skills to becoming an inclusive leader. It was impressive to hear other leaders own up to their own challenges and mistakes. Most importantly, it brought men who were a part of the majority into the conversation as equal partners in addressing the challenges women and minorities face. I hope to someday not need ‘programs’ to advance women, but rather to remove bias from the system and make it truly meritocratic.

What resources or support has Intel offered you during the crisis?
Intel has offered flexible schedules, time-off benefits, and part-time work, including job protected leave. Additional support includes programs for parents with children managing virtual schooling, and extended backup childcare. It’s like a safety net, knowing that if it gets too hard and you can’t take it anymore, you don’t have to quit—you have options.

What has been the biggest challenge for you as you are navigating this ‘new normal’?
Starting a new job in the pandemic has been very challenging. As a leader, a big part of my job is relationship building. And since I can no longer run into someone at the coffee stand or chat for 5 minutes in the hallway after a meeting, it’s made things a lot harder, especially when it comes to the broad network.

One thing that has become ‘normal’ for me is being incredibly purposeful about being positive and finding little things every day to elevate my spirits. I also try to do quick check-ins on friends and colleagues. Occasionally one of my kids pops in to where I’m working and gifts me a picture or a hug… those are the really special days.

Do you have advice for other women who are working remotely with their children at home?
As a working parent of a 1st and 2nd grader in a pandemic, the term ‘maxed out’ has taken on new meaning — even with my partner taking the primary role for helping with the kids’ virtual education.

The best advice I can offer is to share your challenges and lean on each other. Get creative, but most importantly, have compassion for yourself. And know how to take some time off, even if it means letting the kids have a bit too much screen time.

What advice do you have for women in engineering who want to take their career path to the next level?
I’ve been lucky enough in my career to be in groups with a healthy proportion of women and I’ve also been ‘the only.’ I can feel the difference. To be the first, you have no choice but to play the game as it is, follow the rules of the boys’ club, and work twice as hard to get there. To pull up the rest, the systems must change.

Right now, I see both hope and a window of opportunity. One of the most fascinating gender studies I’ve read recently concluded that women’s voices were respected far more when they made up the majority of a group than if they were alone or a minority. To be seen and promoted as a leader you must be heard, and one of the best ways you can do that is to bring more women to the table with you.


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Content was excerpted from this original article published in partnership with Fairygodboss.
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