Sarah Schell, a data scientist, and Alex Hsu, a software engineer, are well aware of the challenges that come with being a women in tech. Working in a male-dominated field, they both understand that in some environments, they’ll have to work extra hard to make sure their voices are heard. That’s why, understandably, Schell and Hsu weren’t sure of what to anticipate when they began working at GameChanger, a sports tech company that builds apps for youth teams and their communities.
“I was worried it would be a confluence of bros,” Schell admits, while Hsu says she worried “it would be a very classic stereotypical bro-type culture.” But both have found the opposite to be true. Whereas many women in male-dominated industries struggle to make their voices heard, Schell and Hsu have felt empowered since day one.
Schell, who began working in a brand new position managing and analyzing data at GameChanger about five months ago, says she’s had “a lot of latitude in defining what my role is.” In contrast to her last work environment, which she describes as more academic and hierarchical, Schell has found GameChanger to be a place “with a bunch of smart people trying to figure things out. It’s less of a credential-based environment.” In fact, she came to GameChanger in part because she was looking for a collaborative workplace culture where there’d be room for growth.
Like Schell, Hsu — who works on programming specific features for GameChanger’s iOS and Android apps — says that she loves the company’s collaborative culture and that the company has cross-functional teams. “A lot of companies say that they do, but we actually execute it really well,” Hsu explains. “I’ll be in meetings [with people from other departments] where we’re talking about our user base, and I get to have a lot of input into our features, and I can push back if I think something isn’t technically feasible.
“That’s something that really attracted me to GameChanger,” Hsu adds. “You get a lot of say in what you’re building day-to-day. You get to be involved in the decision-making process.”
She also notes that you don’t have to know anything about sports to work at the company. “We joke that the only sport one of our main engineers is knowledgeable about is Quidditch. We have a lot of cool tech challenges whether or not you like sports. Every Friday at 5 p.m., we have what we call demo day. People are encouraged to present their work to the company, which fosters transparency — and people are proud of what they’re working on.”
In addition to getting a say in some key decisions, all new employees are paired with a “buddy” who helps with the onboarding process. While you might normally worry about asking too many questions when you’re a newbie at work, GameChanger’s buddy system is designed to assuage those very concerns.
Beyond feeling supported by their peers, Schell and Hsu describe this kind of welcoming culture throughout the very top levels of leadership. “I think the leadership here is very self-aware about [what it’s like to be a woman in tech],” says Schell. “I’ve been really impressed with our CEO; he speaks really candidly about these issues and wants to do it right.”
She and Hsu have some sage advice for women job seekers: try not to let any insecurities get the best of you, particularly if you’re job searching in a male-dominated industry. “If I see people who are objectively less qualified than I am, and they’re doing things that I’m not, those sort of disparities are motivating to me. I bluff confidence at times, and it’s paid off for me.”
Hsu agrees that you should force yourself to apply for jobs that interest you even if you don’t feel 100% qualified. “The worst thing that can happen is you don’t get an interview,” she says. “I think it’s scary to put yourself out there, but it ends up being really worth it.”
If you want to join Schell and Hsu and their amazing colleagues at GameChanger, this is your chance: there are plenty of job openings at the company, and they’re looking to bring on more women like you!
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