I’ve Been a Woman in Tech for Over 10 Years: Here’s My Best Advice for You

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Joyce Leung

Photo courtesy of Realtor.com®

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Joyce Leung is a staff software engineer at Realtor.com® who works in the core consumer experience function of the company. She serves as the tech lead of the company’s shared UI component systems, which are vital for building reusable code while minimizing duplication and inconsistencies across the organization.

Her role, she tells Fairygodboss, involves implementing strategies for how to help scale Realtor.com’s micro front-ends and cope with obstacles associated with cross-functional collaboration.

“This field is constantly evolving at a rapid pace, and our company must continuously improve the way we write software to keep up,” she explains. “Working as a software engineer, I'm always faced with interesting challenges, and that's what I enjoy most.”

Leung has been working at Realtor.com for 10 years; in fact, it was her first job out of university. Here, we caught up with her to learn more about how her company has supported her decade-long career, and her top advice for other women in tech. Here’s what she had to say.

What were you doing previously? How has Realtor.com supported you in your career?

It's hard to imagine doing anything else other than software development; however, I didn't start out as a developer nor did I have a clear path to this field. 

I started at Realtor.com (RDC) as a Customer Support Specialist for one of our professional products (essentially tech support for real estate agents). This was one of those entry-level customer service jobs you get when you are a fresh graduate, and I never would have imagined I could never be working in software development. 

Growing up, I was always interested in design and development. I used to spend a lot of time taking apart websites to figure out how they work. I have always thought of this interest as a hobby and never envisioned being able to do it professionally. 

Following a few months in technical support, I was eventually recommended for a position in the graphic design department. I was able to land this opportunity largely because of the online portfolio I built and maintained since I began exploring design and development. From there, I was exposed to different opportunities to create landing pages for the marketing team. Thanks to supportive managers, I eventually landed my first engineering position a few years after starting at RDC.

Throughout my career here, I have had the pleasure of working with many amazing managers and tech leads. They all helped foster my growth and encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone to take on exciting new challenges. I put in a lot of hard work myself, but without their mentorship and guidance along the way, I wouldn’t be where or who I am today. Building a supportive community around myself was essential for success, and made the biggest difference in my journey.

What is your normal day-to-day life like at work? 

My days usually start with morning scrum meetings with my team. The work my team does requires a lot of cross-team collaboration, so as a tech lead, my day usually consists of meetings with designers, engineers, and developer managers. 

In between meetings, I spend the majority of my time doing code and design reviews, creating tech strategies and breaking them into work plans, and then mentoring junior team members. If time permits, I usually end the day by doing some hands-on coding because it is where my passion lies. 

What traits/skills do you have that help you succeed in your tech role?

I consider my sense of empathy to be one of my most powerful tools. When I work with people, I often try to be aware of what they might be feeling or thinking by being compassionate and asking myself, “How would I feel if I was the one in this situation?” This allows me to establish deeper connections with people and improve overall human interactions. Better communication and collaboration drives more efficient and effective cross-team collaboration, which is a vital part of my job as a team lead at RDC. 

Furthermore, having compassion and deeper understanding with how our end-users think and feel improves how our software handles human interactions and the way we solve user problems. It is much easier to come up with the best solutions if we can get to the heart of the problem, especially when it isn't apparent or clearly conveyed. 

Another trait that drove my career forward was my passion for design and technology. I am a self-taught software engineer with no formal school or training experience before entering the industry. My growth has been greatly influenced by my passion and my commitment to mastering the craft in between my studies at university and at the start of my work life. I believe it’s important to love what you do. The technical skills will develop over time, but it is the passion that gives you the finishing touch.  

What do you find are the most challenging aspects about being a woman in tech? What’s your No. 1 piece of advice for women looking to start a career in tech?

As a woman in technology, one challenge I often struggle with is letting my self doubt get in the way. This was something I especially struggled with at the start of my career, as most of my peers were computer science graduates, and I felt like I was never going to measure up to their abilities. Often being the only woman in the room, I felt intimidated. In meeting settings, I was very careful with what I said, fearing someone would figure out I didn’t belong there. This was impacting my ability to contribute and was damaging my mental health.

In the last year, I've received some mentoring from female leaders at RDC who were able to relate to this and helped me grow in this area.

If I can offer any advice to anyone else struggling with this problem, it is the following: it’s easy to lose confidence in yourself when you feel overwhelmed or out of place, but that’s okay. Everyone can feel this way at times, especially in the field of technology where everything is evolving quickly. What’s best practice today might not be the same tomorrow, and we are all just figuring it out as we go. It helps to establish a supportive community around yourself where you feel comfortable asking questions. When all fails and negative thoughts are taking over, try to refocus your attention on improving your craft and trust in your abilities. 

Is there anything else that you’d like to mention? 

It is exciting to see female representation in the tech industry growing. I hope my story and lessons will inspire and help other women in similar circumstances.


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