08 February 2016 Culture

Calling All Lady Avengers

By Kristina Frost


Community is a word that means a lot to all of us here at Elastic, be it in regards to the community of engineers who use and even contribute to our Stack, or our community of over 300 employees scattered across the globe. I think often about the communities I consider myself a member of, and how they might keep getting stronger, keep getting better. Better is a tricky word and it can look like a lot of things: it can look like more fun, for instance, with my friends; it can look like more efficiency, for my team; but for the context of this blog post, it looks like more diversity for my company and for our industry. 

I’m not sure when, exactly, it became apparent to me that membership in certain communities afforded the people within them more privilege and power than those without. This is not knowledge we’re born with, after all. Kids have unparalleled imaginations, and those imaginations usually don’t come with glass ceilings. The ceilings come later. At some point, I assented to the fact intellectually: I knew, for example, that certain schools had better reputations than others; I knew that my own race and socio-economic class afforded me luxuries that not all of my peers received. Maybe because I was so privileged in that respect, the gender divide didn’t feel like a real limitation for me for a long time. Emotional assent to that fact came along much, much later: when I’d entered the workforce, and the stereotypes so many of us are familiar with started to appear in a real way, like, for example, that in nearly all of my performance reviews I’ve been applauded for passion, efficiency, and leadership whilst simultaneously being hit with that word we seem to use only for women: “bossy.” I know I’m not alone. I know the science, now; all of the sociological work that tells us that the hurdles put in front of women in the workplace are very real, and that the hill we climb is very steep.

I came to Elastic from a big company, and part of the reason why I was so excited to come here was the prospect of building things for the first time, from the ground up. Not because I think I can do so flawlessly, but because whatever mistakes I make, and whatever mistakes my team makes, they’ll be new mistakes, our mistakes, mistakes that we own; not mistakes we’re inheriting that were set in place five or ten years ago, or processes still tied to “that’s just how we’ve always done it.” One of these things, and I’m excited to introduce you all to it, is our “Lady Avengers,” a name we’ve basically made up because of the company love of superheroes. 

Pasted image at 2016_01_21 03_46 PM-1.pngA recent gathering of the Mountain View Chapter of the Lady Avengers 

Who are the Lady Avengers? We’re  every female employee of Elastic, and we meet monthly to talk about what it’s like to be a woman who works in the technology space, and what it’s like to be a woman who works for Elastic, and how we can make both of those things better. We haven’t been at this for very long, so we’re a scrappy bunch of superheroes, and we’re just getting started when it comes to deciding what kinds of things we want to do and build for the very first time. It’s my pleasure on behalf of all of us to invite those of you who are attending Elastic{ON} to join us for our Lady Avengers Breakfast, on Thursday morning at 8:45 AM.

What is the Lady Avengers Breakfast? Think of it as one part community kick-off, one part guided meet-and-greet, and one part … well, breakfast. It’s hosted by us, and we’ll be breaking up into themed groups, to host roundtables on things like working with emerging technologies, culture and diversity crafting, professional development, or even just as a place to share experiences and network. Women from all parts of Elastic will be there to participate; from every department from Engineering to Sales, from all around the world, including many of our recruiters and our new VP of Human Resources (one of our newest Lady Avengers!). So if you’re attending the conference, and if this is a topic that you’re passionate about, please plan to come by and see us. We’ll have some special swag and giveaways, but I think more importantly, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with other women at the conference, and you’ll get to join a conversation that we want to keep going for a very, very long time. 

We have big dreams for this community and what it can do, and we want all of you to play a part in collaborating with us. If you can’t attend, stay tuned, because like I said, this is just going to be our first conversation, but I promise you it won’t be the last.

So come on by, eat some breakfast, and talk to some brilliant, amazing women. I’m not Nick Fury, and trust me, I’d never play him on TV, but the Lady Avengers are enlisting superheroes, and this is a community that won’t be the same if it doesn’t have you.