The latest candidate in our series of Q&As with influential women in the technology business in Canada is Tiffany Jung, COO, Commit, a remote-first developer community for start-up engineers.
Name: Tiffany Jung
Job Title: Chief Operating Officer, Commit
Years in the Industry: 8 Years
The Quote That Most Inspires You: “Fight for the things that you care about but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” – (Ruth Bader Ginsburg)
What drew you to a career in the consumer and/or business technology industry?
In high school, I remember having a home computer with Internet access earlier than my friends because my dad’s job required him to have a home office set up. My best friend and I taught ourselves how to write HTML, and I’ have been an early adopter of technology ever since.
The transition into tech from previously having a career in law took a while longer. I thought there were other ways for an emerging tech company to spend its money than hiring an expensive lawyer in-house. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the job search process and instantly loved tackling the new problems and challenges that working in tech brings.
Have you encountered any roadblocks along the way that were related to your gender?
I don’t think I’ have encountered any complete roadblocks, but it’s certainly felt at times like I’m stuck in traffic and others are in the express lane.
This looked like not being invited for drinks after work with a potential mentor because it wouldn’t seem appropriate for a male partner and a young female associate to go for drinks; or spending more energy ignoring micro-aggressions and making sure everything was perfect. When there’s only one Asian woman in the room at the firm, it’s hard to escape scrutiny.
I wish remote work had been more prevalent earlier in my career. How freeing it would have felt to avoid the prejudices that seem inescapable in an office environment and instead be able to engage more fully in learning how to be the best lawyer I could be!
What unique characteristics or perspective do you feel you bring to your organization as a woman?
Unfortunately, I know firsthand how it feels to be underestimated (which is a nice way of saying disrespected) as a woman in the workplace. Fortunately, this experience means I can empathize with our team members, particularly those from less traditional backgrounds, now in the tech industry.
Empathy itself isn’t unique at Commit, but combined with my legal, business, and finance background as COO, I’m uniquely positioned to ensure that inclusivity is instilled throughout the organization.
Technology is historically a male-dominated industry, yet the use of tech is fully embraced by women, and many studies even suggest that females are the primary buyers of tech in the home. What do you feel the technology industry needs to attract more women, particularly into high-level positions?
The technology industry is already moving in this direction, but I feel it’s still worth repeating that remote workplaces are more inclusive workplaces. Women still shoulder the lioness’ share of the responsibilities at home, and this will continue until societal expectations catch up to equalize the expectations of men and women. It can only benefit the tech industry to provide women with the autonomy to get the job done. If the industry embraces the future of work, it can be harnessed to attract and retain women at all levels.
If you had to sum up what it is like being a woman in this male-dominated technology industry in just a few words, what would you say?
I would say that it is a challenge that I happily accept. I recognize that I am fortunate to work with an executive team that values and respects my opinion as a woman and a leader. I am eager to use my position to create more opportunities for women to impact the tech industry.
Are there other women in the tech industry who inspire you?
Absolutely! I’m inspired by reading the stories of women founders building tech companies in their vision, with Whitney Wolfe Herd and Bumble coming to mind. Yet, I am even more inspired when I connect with young women who are changing the cultures of the tech companies that they work for from the inside by being their authentic selves, which takes great confidence and vulnerability.
What are some of the misconceptions/myths about women working in the technology space that you’d like to dispel?
I’d like to dispel the misconception that women need to change or fix themselves to work in the tech space. Instead, it’s the industry that needs to evolve to meet the needs of a diverse workforce and attract the best talent.
Another misconception is that all women should, or want to, be treated the same. We are all individuals who have different needs based on demands on our time, and there is no one solution to “fix” gender disparity in the technology space.
What’s one thing you wish was done differently in the industry, and why?
I wish the industry would move away from exalting the “grind.” At Commit, we’re exploring the introduction of a four-day workweek that will require a review of roles and their requirements and consideration of individual preferences. We’re confident that it can be successfully deployed for everyone on our team.
Are you optimistic for the future in general and for the industry?
Yes! I think that remote-first technology companies especially are uniquely positioned to be on the leading edge of company culture innovations. It’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy loop. These companies can best attract diverse, talented workforces that expect, design, and build enlightened workplaces for themselves and others.