Ever wonder what it’s like behind the scenes at League? Each month, we’ll be featuring one of our talented team members in the League Employee Spotlight series.
Let’s meet Margaret:
Where are you from, what did you study and why?
I grew up in the suburbs of NYC, and then I went to MIT for university. I was originally planning on studying bio-engineering or math, but during my first year I took a computer science course, and it was so much fun that I decided to pursue that as my major. MIT is a very engineering-focused school, so technically my major was “Computer Science and Engineering.” While I was a student, I also started doing web development in my spare time and during summer internships, and I think that had even more of an impact on my career than the courses I took.
What led you to become a developer?
I never thought I would be a developer, but trying out a computer science class made me realize how fun programming could be. Beyond what I learned in school, my experience with internships and personal web projects is what made me really see this as a career I wanted.
What do you love about your job?
I love building things that people end up using to make their lives easier. I’ve always been drawn to product development, as opposed to more academic computer science pursuits, for just that reason. I also love that building products is a very collaborative process—I need to work with developers from different teams, as well as product managers and UX designers. Products are never right the first time, and they’re never 100% done, so there’s always lots of room to iterate and make things better.
Since you started at League you’ve been promoted to Director of Engineering. Can you tell us a bit about your new role?
In my new role, I lead a team of about 25 software engineers. I’m responsible for establishing a productive engineering culture and best practices across the team, while also supporting a team of leaders who help me oversee day-to-day management of software delivery.
We’re growing the team a lot this year, so I also spend a lot of my time working on recruiting and hiring – which includes designing our org. structure to make our new hires effective as quickly as possible.
What do you think the industry needs to do to increase the number of women in the field? Are they already doing the right things, and if not, what would you like to see?
First, I think we need to support the women who are currently in the industry. So many talented women leave because they get worn down by all the little things that make their job harder than it needs to be. Of course, we need to combat blatant sexism, but I think that nowadays the challenges are more subtle, whether it’s being talked over in a meeting, passed over for a job offer, or feeling uncomfortable in after-hours social activities.
We need to acknowledge that great developers don’t fit a single stereotype, and we need to create an environment where lots of different types of people can succeed. At League, I’m happy to see women in technical roles, but also that there are other kinds of diversity in our team. It’s much easier to create a welcoming environment when there is no one dominant group.
When it comes to mentoring girls who are interested in STEM, what are some of the key lessons you try to pass on to them?
I try to encourage young women to ask a lot of questions, and not be embarrassed if there’s something they don’t know already. Everyone started out somewhere, and it’s never too late to catch up. I think the most important thing is maintaining your curiosity and drive for learning.
And what would you say to young women who are on the verge of joining your field?
Do it! Don’t let anyone tell you what a “real developer” looks like. Do great work, and let the results prove everyone wrong.
Quirky factoid about yourself:
I was president of my sorority in university. While you may not think of MIT as a stereotypical American university, Greek life was pretty big there, and definitely a big part of my life!