Fireside Chat with the Women of Extensis

Laura Xu
March 8, 2019

Happy International Women’s Day (IWD) from Extensis! IWD is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. For over a century, the annual observance of IWD has shone a spotlight on the continued struggle for gender equality. Collective action and shared ownership for driving gender parity is essential to making true positive change.

To celebrate in solidarity, a group of my female colleagues and I gathered this morning to share our experiences and discuss the state of gender equality in technology. Over coffee and tea, we shared a fireside chat about our careers and how we all arrived at Extensis.

Let me take a moment to briefly introduce our amazing and talented group of ladies:

  • Erica, a Software Engineer who has been with Extensis for 10 months
  • With three months on the job, Amy, from the Sales team is one of the newest members to the Extensis family
  • April, the most tenured of the group, originally joined Extensis in 1998 and is a Software Engineer
  • Jeri joined Extensis in 1999 and is a QA Engineer
  • Cecily, an Account Manager is approaching two years in her role
  • Katherine, a Sales Development Representative is reaching 6 months into her first role fresh from graduating
  • Renee, HR Director at Extensis since 2001

IWD Fireside Chat

Being relatively new to Extensis myself, I relished hearing about the diverse backgrounds and the different paths we took to arrive in the technology sector. Our educational backgrounds span across journalism, art, business, marketing, and software engineering.

With the diversity in tenure and career experience of the group, it was a great opportunity for the newer members to hear advice on how to navigate change and transition. Renee encouraged us all to embrace change and focus on what we can control. “When you’re going through times of transition, there are things that are out of your control but they’ll be figured out. Try to be patient and realize that not everybody has the answers and they’re trying to work through it too.”

A few of us acknowledged that our careers have unfolded within the context of gender disparity. “I fell into recruiting and it was all guys except me but it was still a blast", one colleague shared. The technology sector has also historically faced challenges in increasing female representation. According to the United States Department of Labor, in 2016, women accounted for 46.8% of the labor force.  However, the average percentage of female employees at major technology companies make up between 26% (Microsoft) and 43% (Netflix).

Highlighting this specific issue, IWD’s theme for the year is #balanceforbetter, to better the balance and better the world. Gender inequality is not just a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. According to a Harvard Business Review article, gender-diverse companies are 45% more likely to improve market share.

Cecily noted the coincidence and timeliness of our conversation today. She’s reading A is for Ox by Barry Sanders and she just finished a part of the book that talks about how women were excluded during the creation of the Latin language. She noted how in the past, religious, political and social positions of power were held by men and women were relegated to gossip and informal conversations.

“Gossip has a dismissive connotation but really a lot of stories that we have today and a lot of the ways we are today are simply because women got together and talked. So it’s cool and funny that we’re in this setting today talking together instead of upstairs, surrounded by four walls.”

As we wrapped up our conversations and took the elevator back upstairs to return to our desks, I felt really proud to be a part of this group of amazing ladies. Our industry is continually changing, so that with more conversations like these, progress will definitely happen.



Laura Xu – Email and Event Marketing Manager

Laura Xu is a seasoned content marketer and event manager at Extensis with a passion for crafting digital communications. Laura’s marketing career spans over a decade working in financial and professional services in San Francisco, Hong Kong and London. Whether it’s through a product launch email, event email invitation, or an engaging webinar, Laura knows the power of connecting through technology. After living in sprawling cities with more skyscrapers than trees, Laura is now relishing being back home in Portland, Oregon surrounded by lush green trees and accessible parks. She loves hiking, yoga, meditation, photography, and reading.