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In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re spotlighting the powerful women of Xpress Technologies. Jackie Cross leads our back-end engineering team and is one of the many influential females we get to work with every day. We asked Jackie to share her advice to young professionals and her thoughts on women in technology roles, female advancement, and the importance of supporting women in the workplace. 

“If others have confidence in you, it’s for a reason. Believe them and believe in yourself.” -Jackie Cross

Do you have any advice for young professionals?

1. Build a team of mentors. Seek out coworkers, friends, industry leaders, etc. who you admire for a specific skill or trait and ask them for help. Mentors can assist you to identify gaps in your skill set, gain confidence, guide your carrier path, identify opportunities for growth, or even negotiate salaries. One mentor may not be enough, as one person is unlikely to be an expert on all the things you need support with, especially early in your career. It can be helpful to get multiple trusted perspectives when making a big decision.

2. Don’t doubt yourself. When the XT director of engineering approached me about becoming an engineering team lead, my initial reaction was to question if I was ready for the promotion. I had to remind myself that if they didn’t think I could do it, they wouldn’t have asked. If others have confidence in you, it’s for a reason. Believe them and believe in yourself.

Do you think women entering tech roles now are better off than women who started working when you did? Why?

Yes, I think they are. I started working in technology 8 years ago, and for a long time I was always the only woman on my team. It can be powerful to be the only women in the room, but it’s also isolating. I think that companies are doing a better job of purposefully recruiting women and creating company policies with women in mind, like flexible work options and family leave. I also think that the acceptance of bootcamps and online learning as an alternative to a 4 year computer science degree has enabled more women of different backgrounds and ages to pursue tech roles. Culturally, we’re also in a moment where many are reflecting on stereotypes and norms and becoming more aware of their unconscious biases and making the effort to change their mindset.

What is the impact that allyship can have on women’s advancement?

The impact that allyship can have on women’s advancement cannot be overstated. As most of my coworkers and managers have always been men, I could not have reached my potential without them recognizing, accepting, and elevating me. At my first tech job, one of my highly respected senior male coworkers often asked me to contribute to important, high visibility projects and made a point of highlighting my work to the leadership team so that I got the credit I deserved. He didn’t do this because I asked, but because he felt that it was right. It’s also important for women to be allies for other women. There is a big focus on elevating women in technology, but too often that only includes white women. It is so important that women of color are also given power, resources, and access to leadership.

What is the best way to support/build up other women in the workplace?

1. Pay attention to how women are treated. If you see someone being treated poorly, say something. I’ll never forget the time a male coworker asked me to get him a cup of coffee, and before I could react another male coworker said “She’s an engineer, not your assistant. Get your own coffee.”

2. Invite them to participate. When you’re in a meeting that includes women, hear them out. Our opinions and ideas are worth listening to not because of our gender but because we are capable, intelligent individuals with valuable insights to share. Don’t interrupt.

3. Ask them for feedback. Find out how the women around you feel about the company culture. Is there anything that makes them feel alienated? Anything they think should be changed? Ask them how you can help and how you can best advocate for them.

What is a quote you live by?

“If you are invited to a meeting, you have earned the seat at the table” – Sharmeelee Bala, VP of engineering at Gap

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Why Work with Xpress Technologies?

This is your chance to be part of transforming one of America’s largest industries from the inside out. If that’s not enough, we also offer a highly-competitive compensation package, a collaborative work environment, PTO, a team invested in each other’s growth. Additionally, we have profit-sharing, an employee stock purchasing program, 401K matching, and a professional development allowance. So, join us, and let’s drive the industry forward together.