It started with a creative approach to finding the perfect VP Engineering for Swish.ai, and ended with an important discussion on gender equality and language
The words we choose can have a powerful impact on those who read and hear them. In Hebrew, language is very gendered, and when you write about an open position or describe your ideal candidate – you need to choose what gender you’re talking about – usually with an asterisk at the bottom saying it applies to all genders. No big deal, right? Except, most of these posts are written in male form, and we’re so used to it, that one written for women stands out.
When I posted about the ideal future VP Engineering at Swish.ai (see here), I described a woman, again with the asterisk that the role was, of course, for all genders. It resonated with a lot of people, and for good reason – not just because of my writing skills, but because of my choice of words.
” Today, I want to give a shout out to our VP Engineering, who recently joined us toward our Round A. She is an extraordinary person – the beating heart, the observant eyes, and the attentive ear of our product development teams.
She is exceptional at getting things done and her passion is infectious. She has managed to turn us into a well-oiled product machine with automated testing and CI/CD processes – truly *chef’s kiss*.
This is no easy task at Swish.ai, because management is matrixional. We have a team of developers, data science professionals, and process engineers, and she conducts this orchestra masterfully.
She isn’t the strongest developer in the company; it’s been years since she wrote code herself. But somehow, she knows how to listen and she knows how to ask the important questions to get down to the details that matter when needed. That’s why everyone values her and accepts her leadership.
Do you know how we know she’s an excellent manager? Because no one is working nights and weekends – and that is something we can all get behind. Maybe because we’re all like that, we love what we do and enjoy our work, but also love our time with family and for leisure. Her management methods make this balance possible.
Wonder how I recruited her? I understood that a manager like this can only be recruited using special methods, so I wrote this post and left my email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
*The above post is intended for all genders.”
This sparked a wave of comments and messages from people applauding my choice of words, and many who said it was refreshing to see an executive position worded this way. The response says something about our society – this shouldn’t stand out, just like a post written in male form doesn’t stand out. But the fact of the matter is that it does, and it affects us all.
On March 4, shortly after posting, I joined a panel of headhunters and executives for an open conversation about why this post stood out, and why women who clearly have the skills and knowledge to excel at executive positions simply don’t apply.
Each one of us must do our part in building a better world and society for all humans, regardless of their gender, age, religion, appearance, and origins. And while we do, we hope that things will change and improve, and of course here at Swish.ai – we hope the ideal VP Engineering we described sees our posts and sends us her CV.