Even with a woman CEO at the helm, Mozilla recognizes the ongoing need to refine our approach to hiring women and nonbinary talent. It’s an industry-wide issue: According to a 2022 report by Deloitte, women made up just 25% of technical roles within large tech companies. Among Fortune 500 companies, only 8.8% have a woman CEO.
That’s why this year, Mozilla is excited to be one of the sponsors of the Grace Hopper Celebration, an annual event that honors the contributions of women and nonbinary talent to the field of technology. During this week’s GCH conference, we’ll start sharing some of the stories of women Mozillians. Here’s our conversation with Vicky Chin, Mozilla’s VP of engineering, about her journey, the challenges she has faced in her career, and the importance of hiring women and nonbinary talent.
Tell us about your career journey.
I studied engineering at the University of Toronto. I began my career at IBM, building compilers for high-performance computing. Compilers are at the intersection of hardware and software, which I found fascinating. I enjoyed complex technical work with highly talented teams.
In 2018, I joined Mozilla to rebuild the performance program for Firefox. Having been a long time Firefox user, I was excited to work on a product that I use every day, and for a company that is mission-driven. We focused on improving the speed of page loads on our browser and improving our ability to measure user-perceived performance. Today I work with the desktop and mobile engineering teams to ship great product experiences in my role as VP of engineering. Mozilla’s engineers are some of the most intelligent and kind people I’ve worked with, and I’m proud of the outsized impact we have on web standards through Firefox.
Why do you think it’s so important to hire women talent in tech?
A crucial part of building great products, especially for a product that is used by millions of people, is ensuring that we have diverse perspectives represented in the room as we build. Having different voices provides a broader range of lived experiences. It influences how we show up for people in our products.
I am a huge believer that having role models matter, especially having people who you can relate to in fields you seek to work. I love events like the Grace Hopper Celebration and would love to see the tech field mirror what our general population looks like.
Can you talk about the challenges you’ve faced in your career and how you overcame them?
Engineering is a male-dominated field and while we have made some progress, there is still work to be done. Throughout my career I’ve sat in rooms where I was the only woman, spoken up in meetings only to have another male colleague say the same thing and get credit for the idea, or been mistaken for an assistant. These challenging situations made me question my abilities, but it also lit a fire in me to keep pushing, so that we can change the demographics in this field.
I’ve learned to develop my own voice and seek opportunities to learn and grow. I’ve had great mentors who provided sage advice and coaching. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness and I’m grateful for all the guidance and support I’ve received. Lastly, I’ve connected with colleagues who share similar challenges, who have provided me with strength and confidence in my leadership journey.
What can companies do to increase their candidate pools with women and nonbinary talent?
I believe companies need to invest in all stages of a career. We need to ask how we are helping women and nonbinary talent understand what it is like to work in tech and what opportunities are available. This can be done through internship programs like Outreachy and Capstone projects with universities. Internships and work placements create opportunities for women and nonbinary talent to build up their field experience. This allows us to help the industry enrich its diversity.
Having processes to ensure we are hiring from a pool of candidates with diverse backgrounds and experiences, implementing training to eliminate bias throughout the hiring process, and building an inclusive onboarding process creates a welcoming environment for women and nonbinary talent to thrive.
But there’s more. Once we hire, we have to ask “what are the ways that we’re supporting growth or what are the ways we are giving equal opportunity to people on new projects at various levels?” We must support those who become parents and/or are caregivers for others. It’s truly a journey for the long haul and about making investments in key areas.
Any tips for women and nonbinary talent in navigating remote work environments?
In some ways, remote work levels the playing field by equalizing how everyone looks on screen. I’m not very tall, and I can be the same size as a very tall person on the screen. In real-life conversations, getting a word in can be challenging at times, especially in a large group. I love features like “Raise your hand” to signal that you have something to say without interrupting. Leverage online collaboration tools to ensure your voice is heard.
We do a lot of work asynchronously at Mozilla through shared documents. This enables those who work in different time zones or those who couldn’t attend a meeting to participate. Having multiple ways for people to participate creates greater opportunity for the full diversity of viewpoints to be heard.
As VP of engineering, what would you say is a recipe for success in not only hiring but also retaining and promoting women and nonbinary talent to a role like yours?
It’s challenging, because there’s not that many women and nonbinary talent in the field, but one thing that’s helped me immensely is having sponsorship, not just mentorship. I’ve appreciated all the leaders who believed in my work and championed it. As a result, I’ve had great opportunities to gain valuable experience. We need more sponsorship of women and nonbinary talent.
Interested in joining our team? Check out our open roles.