Every March, Google celebrates International Women’s Day (IWD) by hosting a series of summits across the globe. In 2020, there are 15 different summits taking place in 10 countries. The events will feature inspiring speakers from the tech industry, interactive workshops presented by Google’s Women Techmakers and community building among women in tech.
Part of the goal of these events is to build community among local women in the tech industry. In every country hosting a summit, we have a list of inspiring speakers, including Swati Vauthrin, the VP of engineering at BuzzFeed, Dr. Wendy A. Okolo, an aerospace research engineer at NASA and Mira Leung, a software engineer at Google who will be speaking at our IWD summit in Seattle. I recently sat down with Mira to hear more about her story and her journey to tech and get a preview of what she’ll be talking about during her talk on March 7.
Describe your journey to Google. Were there any challenges you faced along the way?
Before my career in tech, I was a figure skater and competed at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games. After my athletic career, I wanted to pursue one of my other passions—computer science. While completing my degree at the University of British Columbia, I also worked as a teaching assistant for several courses, helped with a couple research projects, and interned on the Google Analytics team. The following year, I graduated (and gave a speech/rap at my graduation ceremony!) and converted to being a full-time engineer. I've worked on and led Daydream and ARCore projects, and I'm currently the tech lead of the Maps Software Development Kit (SDK) for Android.
What's the message you want to communicate to your audience at the IWD summit?
I hope to show how we can all achieve ambitious goals by overcoming hurdles through collective action. I will be talking about my work on Speakeasy, a new Google Maps translation feature for travelers. I’m going to share how this project got started, and the obstacles we had to overcome to get it to its public launch.
What's one piece of advice you would share with young women entering tech?
Don't be afraid to ask questions. Working in tech means that you will most likely be learning new things throughout your career, especially as you grow your skill set. Most people are eager to share their knowledge and help you out. Embrace the opportunity to learn and collaborate with your peers.
Why do you think it’s important to hold space for women in tech with things like the International Women’s Day summits?
I think that sharing our experiences and learning from each other is key to personal and career growth. Seeing beyond our own perspective can help ensure we don't miss the forest for the trees, and I find this often helps guide our road maps and development at work.
Who is a female role model who’s influenced you?
My mom. Growing up, my mom made sure that I was happy and loved. She made sacrifices for me, encouraged and supported me, and invested her time and attention in me with her. Knowing that she is always there for me no matter what inspires me to give 110 percent to everything I do. I definitely wouldn't be who and where I am today if not for my amazing mom.
Mira will be speaking at this year’s Seattle’s International Women’s Day summit. To learn more about the event and to apply to attend a summit near you, check out goo.gle/iwd-20.