In celebration of Women's History Month, we are releasing a series of posts from women throughout Procore who are talking about their experience in tech, lessons learned and offering up some valuable advice.
One of the first computer games I ever played was called “The Oregon Trail.” For those of you not familiar with the game, it’s an educational game designed to teach school children the harsh realities of 19th century pioneer life. The only objective in the game is to stay alive as you trek 2,000 miles across the country in a covered wagon. I remember thinking this game was awesome, but that it was entirely crazy that anyone would choose to do this. I think this is what most people envision when they hear stories about pioneers and trailblazers — some version of life on the Oregon Trail, full of risk and unlikely probability of survival.
When I started at Procore four years ago, it was a different world. I was the first female in the Product department (we were a much smaller company then), one of the first employees to go out on maternity leave, and I was older than a lot of my coworkers. I didn’t know I was signing up to be a trailblazer in these arenas, but once I realized my choices would influence how other women were viewed and treated at Procore, I knew I had to be intentional. I chose to take on these tasks and test Procore’s value of openness. It was through some crucial conversations that the People department supported me in creating a Lean In Circle, providing feedback about how to create a better working environment for new parents at Procore, and for contributing to our diversity and inclusion efforts to make room for others like me, and for those who are nothing like me, to know they belong here too.
If you were to ask me four years ago if I saw these issues as doors that I kicked down, or walls I broke through, I’d laugh. I didn't really see the impact of my efforts until I realized that there are now women at this company who were able to walk right through these doors with ease, and best of all, didn't know any other reality.
But why would anyone want to be a trailblazer, a leader, a risk taker? Isn't life easier on the sidelines, out of the spotlight, away from the treacherous path of vulnerability and uncomfortable truths?
Being a modern day trailblazer is not living every moment with burning passions and dedicating yourself to a life of extremes, it's listening to your gut when you see something that isn't right and saying something. It's making a path for others when it's clear they are unable to make it themselves and taking the time to help someone else excel or grow. It's speaking up to injustice, no matter how insignificant it might seem to others. Taking hold of these moments and choosing the riskier option is what makes normal people capable of accomplishing extraordinary things, even if they have to stand alone in order to do it.
Instead of focusing on how hard it is for you to kick down a closed door you see in front of you, think about how many people will walk through that door once you've opened it. My greatest mistake in this area was focusing on how lonely it felt to stand up to something alone, instead of turning around to see everyone else standing with me.
As Women's History Month comes to a close, I'm deeply thankful for the progress that has been created by the modern-day trailblazers who have come before me. I'm also keenly aware of the long road we have ahead. I'd like to encourage all of us to take ownership for creating the world we want to live in, work in, and help make for others. Next time you see a closed door, please kick it down so the rest of us can join you. See you on the other side, and don't worry you won't die from cholera.