There’s no place like home: 6 women explain what makes Colorado tech unique

by Cailin Crowe
April 16, 2019

From the pay gap to a lack of women venture capitalists, it’s no secret that women in tech can face extra hurdles throughout their careers.

However, the arena for women in tech is steadily improving thanks to the hard work of many women — and men — leveling the playing field. In fact, Denver was recently ranked as one of the top 10 best cities for women in tech, setting the stage for the larger Colorado tech scene.

Women from six local tech companies explained why Colorado is a unique place for women to work, connect and propel their careers.

 

havenly Colorado
photo via havenly

Havenly moves Pinterest boards from the virtual world to the physical. The company provides interior designs for a personalized design plan and product suggestions for living spaces.

UI/UX Designer Holly Radesca recently landed in Colorado from New York City and explained why the cross-country move has been great for her career.

 

What do you think makes Colorado a unique place for women in tech?

I moved here from New York City, an incredible place brimming with energy and inspiration, a little over two years ago. For all its perks, it’s also a very large, hectic city. As a self-taught designer, it was easy to feel intimidated by the city’s sheer number of talented designers. Denver has tons of talent! I don’t mean to suggest otherwise. But it’s been easier for me to plug in here.

Denver residents tend to be warm and friendly, which feels more natural to me in part because of my Louisiana roots. The pace of life is manageable, and people seem to have more time to discuss how they got into design and what that experience has been like. I’ve also had a better experience quickly finding and creating my own design community in Denver. Although I did love my time in NYC, the calm pace of Colorado life has helped me find groups to learn from and join.

 

Are there any local or company programs, networking events, or spaces that have helped you navigate your career?

There are many local groups with programming and networking events that I have benefited from, including: Hexagon UX, Girl Develop It, She Says Boulder, Tech Stars, and Ladies That UX Denver.

This year, I joined Hexagon UX’s first mentorship program, and it has really opened up my product design world. I was paired with a super talented and experienced UX designer who is so much fun to discuss all things product design with. I also made several new friends, primarily women, some with many years in the field of product design or research and some at the start of their careers. At Havenly, we are actively developing design networking and training strategies with other awesome companies large and small.

 

Turing school colorado
photo via turing school of software and design,

The Turing School of Software and Design runs a diverse, rigorous developer training program based in Denver.

Louisa Barrett, director of the front-end engineering program, said that local women go-getters should consider not only attending networking events, but running them as well.

 

What do you think makes Colorado a unique place for women in tech?

Colorado’s technical community is growing and evolving, which means new faces and new opportunities. We've had an influx of new folks entering the industry who are passionate hustlers. There are a number of great community events with diverse attendees and awesome ladies spearheading the Meetups, including: Women Who Startup, Women Who Code, DinoJS, Girl Develop it, and Boulder JS. At Turing, we have also established meetup groups for students and alumni who identify as women.

 

Are there any local or company programs, networking events, or spaces that have helped you navigate your career?

I went to every available Meetup and conference, talked to everyone, and volunteered to help the organizers. You meet a lot of people going to events, but you meet more people when you're actually running the Meetup. I've been lucky to work closely with organizations that support communities I want to give back to, like Turing, Ruby Central, Girl Develop It and Women Who Code.

 

Xero colorado
photo via xero

Xero equips customers with accounting software that provides real-time accounting information. Software Developer Melissa Bonds offered her take on the most helpful resource for women in tech: a supportive manager.

 

What do you think makes Colorado a unique place for women in tech?

Colorado is unique because of the people in tech. There seems to be more respect among peers with differing opinions compared to other places I’ve worked. Working in other states, there’s a feeling that you have to be perfect and you can’t make any mistakes, which is not conducive to learning. The working environment at Xero is positive with realistic timelines and inclusive colleagues — even if you are the only woman in the room.

 

Are there any local or company programs, networking events, or spaces that have helped you navigate your career?

I have worked on Xplore, our company-wide hackathon with a diverse set of employees from other groups. I have also been involved in Women Who Code and .Net User Groups throughout my career. I’ve found that the most helpful navigation tool is a great manager who trusts and supports you.

 

ringcentral colorado
photo via RingCentral

RingCental provides an all-in-one communication platform for teams to collaborate from anywhere with any device.

Vice President of Global Channel Programs and Operations Lisa Del Real offered her networking advice for women who want to get ahead.

 

What do you think makes Colorado a unique place for women in tech?

Colorado’s culture is unique. Maybe it’s the mountains and the outdoor lifestyle, or maybe it’s the 300 days of sunshine, but the people here are simply grounded and open to each other. For women in tech, this translates to a fairer shake. People care less about your gender and more about your ability. It’s easier to stand on your own merits here and compete among your peers, both male and female.

If I had to break into tech again, Colorado would be the place to do it — especially since I think the Front Range is the next Silicon Valley. I witnessed the growth in Silicon Valley firsthand during the ‘90s and early 2000s, and Denver and Boulder are feeling more like that every day.

 

Are there any local or company programs, networking events, or spaces that have helped you navigate your career?

I highly recommend joining local professional organizations dedicated to helping women in their careers. These organizations have been a huge advantage in my career, since they allow you to network, collaborate and find mentors who are committed to helping women excel in tech. The organization I’m most involved in is the Alliance of Channel Women (ACW). We have a Denver Chapter that often meets up at fun venues like the Infinite Monkey Theorem or the ViewHouse.

As for RingCentral, we often hire outstanding female talent through our “RingTerns” internship program. In general, internships are a great way for young women to get their foot in the door with a tech company.

 

FareHarbor colorado
photo via fareharbor

FareHarbor is an online booking platform in the travel and activity industries, helping wanderlusts and weekend warriors make the most of their Instagrammable getaways.

Junior FareHarbor Sites Engineer Sommer Shearer explained why she would eagerly grab a beer or go for a hike with any of the talented women she’s met along her networking journey.

 

What do you think makes Colorado a unique place for women in tech?

Colorado has a truly unique culture. We have a million and one opportunities, an amazing community of creative and intelligent women, and the ability to find a healthy work-life balance. I know so many women in Colorado who are passionate about what they do and strive to use their skills to improve the world. Colorado is the perfect combination of a tech space and the great outdoors to find the perfect community of supportive peers. I am proud to say that I would grab a beer or go on a hike with anyone in my network.

 

Are there any local or company programs, networking events, or spaces that have helped you navigate your career?

Built In Colorado is of course a great source of local information, while local meetups like Women Who Code and online communities Ladies Get Paid, Tech Ladies, and Women Techmakers from Google are a great way to meet like-minded people. I love talking and getting advice from women in all areas of their careers, online and in person. I also have to give a huge shoutout to my coworkers at FareHarbor who have helped me learn and grow from day one. My alumni network from University of Denver to Udacity have also helped me navigate the ever-changing space.

 

CyberGRX colorado
photo via cybergrx

CyberGRX helps businesses assess the security risks of third party vendors like Salesforce or ADP.

Senior Product Manager Courtney Cohen outlined her top networking events and instructional courses for women in product management.

 

What do you think makes Colorado a unique place for women in tech?

Colorado has experienced a boom in tech companies starting here or moving to the state, creating a localized frenzy of ideation, innovation, and of course, opportunity. The surge of industry, coupled with the active, fun-loving culture emblematic of Colorado, has attracted a competitive population that is motivated to shake up the workplace status quo of yesteryear. Changes in office culture and shifts away from trite tech industry paradigms are a result of companies recognizing they need to do better in order to attract the best talent. And to remain relevant and capable of differentiation in an increasingly crowded pool of competitors, companies need the best. The shifting environment results in more paths for women to apply their talents in new ways, which is beneficial and essential for women to equally contribute and catalyze the state’s exciting growth trends.

 

Are there any local or company programs, networking events, or spaces that have helped you navigate your career?

I have participated in events hosted by Colorado Product, Denver Women In Tech and other groups founded on the MeetUp platform. These events provide frequent and easily accessible opportunities to learn about interesting new topics or brush up on areas relevant to my current role, and to meet and network with others working in a similar space. Additionally, Colorado’s metropolitan areas attract well-known courses and instructors, allowing me to take advantage of certification trainings sponsored by Pragmatic Marketing in Denver and Mountain Goat Software and CA Agile Academy in Boulder, each of which have directly helped advance my career in product management.

 

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