Interview with Alaina Percival
CEO & Board Chair @ Women Who Code

WWCode is building a world where women are representative as technical leaders, executives, founders, VCs, board members, and software engineers. The organization has executed more than 8,000 free events around the world, garnered a membership exceeding 167,000, and has a presence in 20 countries. Help empower even more women to advance in tech with the training and community they need to succeed by supporting WWCode.
Hi Alaina! Last year, you discussed why visibility is so integral for inspiring young women to consider their own careers in tech. How has Women Who Code focused on bringing visibility to the women in tech in the past year?
Over the past year, Women Who Code has helped to increase the visibility of some of the many very successful women in the tech industry, by elevating their successes. We have the 'Applaud Her' program which, we've actually launched a Web page to allow people to celebrate their career successes. And, this is really coming from, it being difficult for or, a little more difficult for women, to talk about their career successes and, a little bit more difficult for society to hear us do it. And so, we are trying to create a sense of normalcy around really sharing those successes day to day. I realized how important it was for our organization to be doing this. When I was speaking with the director of engineering and she said, You know Alaina, you're right. I've actually been promoted to senior director of engineering and, I've been embarrassed to update my LinkedIn profile. And so, if we're uncomfortable talking about really amazing successes in our careers throughout our entire career. We end up missing out on a lot of opportunities and so, Women Who Code is really working to overcome that social and societal culture of it being uncomfortable to talk about those career successes.
Why is being based in Silicon Valley an asset for women in tech? What are some of the main programs Women Who Code implemented throughout the year?
So, being based in Silicon Valley and being in the tech industry offers unique opportunities for success and also financial success. There's a tremendous amount of investment and innovation going into startups in that particular area of the world. But, personally, I'm a big fan of seeing startups and the tech industry succeed in places outside of Silicon Valley. And, I think that I'm seeing more and more investors really wanting to focus on seeing successes elsewhere and investing in those companies and, so women who could is a global organization. And, we are equally excited to see people not only succeed but also companies and innovation to succeed all over the world.
Growing up, who were some of the women you looked up to? Who are some of the women you admire in Silicon Valley today?
Growing up, my mother was a very strong woman and she had a big influence on me and who I grew up to be. And, today, of course, you know, I can list the really well-known people who inspire me in the tech industry. You know, there's of course Sheryl Sandberg and, Ginni Rometty and, Susan were just given all the people that you always hear about in the news. But, you know, there's also Arlan Hamilton and, Ursula Burns and, Mellody Hobson and, Erica Joy, and Edith Cooper and, Robin Washington and, Regina Wallace Jones, Mary Hamilton, Jasmine Lawrence, Angel Rich, Lily Chang, Aubrey Stern, Sandy Metz, Bonnie Ross, Ginger Chen, Heidi Williams, Joan Pepin, and many more people, who is really far too many to list, who are incredibly successful and inspiring in the tech industry.
March 8th is International Women's Day. What are some positive things you've seen change in the past year with women's rights and representation, and what do you think needs to be addressed this year?
The past year has been an exciting one. We've seen an uptick in consequences for bad behavior at the top level of companies. And, what that does, it takes people out who have traditionally had bad behavior that has specifically kept women from succeeding in the workplace. But, it's also sent a signal that this behavior won't be tolerated. So, hopefully, it will also be preventative so, that we will have less incidences like that in the future. What we've also seen is a large number of women who've earned and been elected to leadership positions effectively changing the face of of leadership and, the idea of what an leader looks like and, who a leader is, what their background is. And, so, that's very exciting. But, what we need to be seeing more of this upcoming year is companies really investing in change and, best practices and, evaluating their own systems for inequalities and, addressing those and coming up with action plans. And, those are the types of things that we really hope to see in the next year. Women Who Code has launched a leadership program that we will bring internal at companies starting this year. So, we're very well known for our leadership development but, if we can go inside and help to develop hypertension women internally that will help to create a lot of affordability inside of organizations and, help us to see change happen even faster.