Software engineer Tracy Chou answers the Quora question “What are some particularly female engineer-friendly companies to work for in San Francisco?”
By Tracy Chou (Software Engineer, Pinterest)

At Pinterest, we have a great company culture (read my breathless rant here). Women are as integral and respected a part of our diverse team as anyone else, and certainly not treated any differently.

It’s the first place, in school or professionally, that I’ve not been aware or made aware of my gender, ever, in any situation. I don’t feel like a female engineer.

I’m just an engineer, and I’m expected and empowered to do great work like every other engineer on the team.

There are several supporting points to that general point on company culture:

1a. Hiring and company growth is done very deliberately with respect to culture.

To give an example, it used to be that Ben, one of our founders and someone who is non-technical, would be the first screen on engineering candidates. That obviously doesn’t scale with company growth, but the idea is the same: culture is a non-negotiable and if you don’t pass that bar, it doesn’t matter how well your skills line up with the job description (engineering or otherwise).

1b. We have been thoughtful about sourcing more female engineers.

We value diversity and know that sometimes we have to work harder to ensure it.

2. We have a healthy contingent of strong female engineers on the team already.

Out of ~35 engineers we have six female engineers, whose previous employers are Apple, Quora, Google, YouTube, Bing/Powerset and LinkedIn. In addition to having a good percentage of female engineers, we’re also well-situated across the company.

For example, our lead apps engineer, who has a PhD from Berkeley and a decade of work experience across teams at NASA and Apple, was one of the first 15 people at the company and she is someone who has helped tremendously in shaping our team.

3. Our product is a generally useful tool/service for anyone, across many different use cases, but it has been particularly resonant with women.

It’s important to us that we have people building the product who are using it in the way that our demographic does. The opinions of those who really use the product matter.

4. There is a good cadence to our work schedules and a healthy respect for time away from the office.

I hesitate to list this as a point under “female engineer-friendly” since it is more of a point about a generally pleasant work environment, but that many people are married, some have kids or will soon, and all are still doing great at Pinterest, speaks to the fact that career and family/personal life don’t have to trade off against each other, which is a concern that women often have.

Yay, come join us!

This post was originally posted on Quora.

Pictured above: Pinterest’s first day in the San Francisco office (July 9, 2012). Special guest visit from Kira the corgi!
About the guest blogger: Tracy Chou is a backend software engineer at Pinterest, working on a mix of product, platform, and infrastructure projects. She is an avid pinner of adorable animals, inspirational quotes, and exotic destinations. Before Pinterest, Tracy was one of the first engineers at Quora, and has also held positions at Facebook and Google. She holds a B.S. in electrical engineering and an M.S. in computer science from Stanford University. Follow her on Twitter at @triketora.