At Yelp we pride ourselves on employee inclusiveness and building employee resource groups. We are excited to share with you the learnings of our first Awesome Women in Engineering (AWE) Summit in Europe, a one-day event on diversity and inclusion, leadership, and tech.

We have two engineering offices in Europe, located in Hamburg and London. The AWE groups from both offices recently joined forces and co-organized the summit. The event was open to all Yelpers and the sessions were recorded so that we could share them with other Yelpers who weren’t able to attend. The summit opened up public speaking and professional development opportunities for our AWE members while engaging the whole office on the awareness of diversity and inclusion and the importance of allyship.

The summit featured the following sessions:

Becoming a software engineer with a non-CS background

Speaker: Sen Sun, Software Engineer

As the enthusiasm for information technology grows, more and more people enter the field without an educational background in Computer Science. Our speaker, Sen has an urban planning background and is a self-taught software engineer. Sen shared with us how she was drawn to tech during the times of the tech boom, when multiple tech companies went public. To acquire the necessary skills, she started by reading, practicing on online platforms, and following the tutorials of popular web frameworks.

One piece of advice she shared about changing to a career in Software Engineering was to get feedback early. For Sen, she applied for programming jobs and interviewed to see what was actually needed in the job market. She started a part-time job in coding after only two months of studying programming. When it came to getting a full time job, getting her foot in the door required her to be tenacious and she had to put in extra effort in resume building. One way of doing that was creating her personal website, which helped her land her first full-time job in programming.

DARs attacks - anatomy of a DAR

Speaker: Sophie Matthews, Site Reliability Engineer

Everytime Yelp has an outage or when the site reliability is at risk, the Operations teams calls a DAR. DAR is short for Darwin, our CEO’s dog’s name at the time, who once ate through our network cables and caused a panic when our CEO thought the site had gone down! In her talk, Sophie went through her team’s incident response process, how it is applied and how it can be improved.

She explained the three types of DARs, when each is raised based on the severity of the situation, and the roles that are assigned to people on the team (coordinator, investigators, communicator). She also described the team’s mandatory and blameless post-mortem process, which is a great learning opportunity for the people involved in the incident as well as all engineers at Yelp.

Fireside chat

Speakers: David Kiger, Engineering Manager and Bill Hewitt, Engineering Manager

Moderator: Verena Berg, Technical Recruiter

This panel included the heads of our European offices, experienced managers, and diversity advocates who discussed their career paths, leadership, and topics around diversity and inclusion. We had a mix of questions from the moderator and the audience. The panelists shared experiences from their careers, what helped them learn and grow, talked about important people they’ve met along the way, and advice for people in engineering or leadership positions. The audience’s questions were focused on the differences between the HQ office and the European offices and how to further support diversity and inclusion in Hamburg and London.

Unconscious bias

Speaker: Yenny Cheung, Software Engineer

In one form or another, everyone is biased. These biases help us make decisions based on our past experiences. However, when it comes to interviewing candidates and working with our co-workers, these bias can harm minorities in the workplace if they are not addressed and corrected. Yenny shared with us how affinity bias (the tendency to warm up to people like ourselves) and confirmation bias (seeking out evidence that confirms our initial perceptions) can be a deterrent for us to hire and retain the best people. For these reasons it’s important that we focus on unlearning them. She also shared actionable steps to help overcome them such as acknowledging biases, putting the facts on the table in the evaluation process, and attributing work to the right person.

Microaggressions and how we can promote a more inclusive culture

Speaker: Alina Radu, Security Engineer

Small things can make a big difference. Alina explained what microaggressions are, how they differ from standard aggressions and why are they unhealthy in our personal and professional lives. She covered a few scenarios where seemingly innocent questions could be perceived differently from intended. She then discussed the impact of this behaviour and addressed topics like impostor syndrome and psychological safety.

Alina encouraged the audience to chime in during the talk and transformed it into a fruitful discussion where people shared personal experiences and lessons.

Our Awesome Women in Engineering employee resource group (AWE) aims to build a strong community for women in tech and their allies at Yelp by facilitating professional career building activities, networking, leadership and mentorship opportunities. The AWE Summit in Europe acted as a professional amplifier and offered networking opportunities for AWE members. At the same time, it strengthened the offices’ commitment to create an inclusive culture for all employees. Check out our website if you wish to know more about how Yelp supports women in tech to grow!

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