In our first-ever minisode series, Mina J., Director of UX Research at ADP, chats with us about what it means to be a woman in tech today and, even further, what it means to be an introverted woman in the tech world. Check out Mina's preview of her Grace Hopper session, "An Introverts Guide to Bringing Your Best to the Table."
Kate:[00:00:07] Okay so Ingrid, here we are, another episode of Life at ADP, the podcast. But we're flipping the script a little bit, so instead of our typical format of 25 minutes, we are doing three different minisodes. So this is one of our minisodes, and each of our minisodes is really exciting because we are featuring three of our talented women from ADP who will be speaking at the Grace Hopper celebration taking place in Orlando, Florida, this September, from September 20th till 23rd. And each of these women are, not only inspiring to, you know, all of us here at ADP, but I know are just going to light up the eyes of others who are attending at Grace Hopper. So, Ingrid, would you like to do the introduction here?
Ingrid:[00:01:05] Absolutely. So let's bring Mina J. She is Director of UX Research at ADP. And we are super, super excited to have you. Mina, welcome to life at ADP, the podcast.
Mina:[00:01:20] Thank you so much. I'm so excited to be here.
Kate:[00:01:23] Great. So as we mentioned, you're one of our three speakers at Grace Hopper representing ADP Tech. You know, Mina, is this your first time attending Grace Hopper?
Mina:[00:01:36] It is. It's my first time attending. And I get to present.
Kate:[00:01:42] A double whammy. That's amazing. So what does Grace Hopper mean to you?
Mina:[00:01:47] Grace Hopper is a conference that I've admired kind of from afar for a really long time. So as it grew, I started to hear more people in my circles talk about it. And in tech, as a woman, I mean, it is the prestigious conference where you can go and connect with people like yourself. Also, as a minority woman, this means a lot to me to be there in person and show up as someone who has made it to a leadership level and can start to help others who are earlier in their career or in the middle of their career. It just is so such an honor for me to be able to go there and represent ADP, represent myself and help other people. I'm going to be taking in so many signals while I'm there, that being my first time attending as well as presenting.
Ingrid:[00:02:38] That is fantastic Mina, and I know you were mentioning that you're super excited because you know, as yourself a woman in tech, this is a great, great celebration. It's an amazing opportunity to connect and, you know, bring amazing women together like you. On that note, what is it like to be a woman in tech in today's atmosphere? right, like in today's industry.
Mina:[00:03:04] Being a woman in tech today has actually been quite amazing for me personally for some of the reasons I just mentioned that I get a chance to help other women in tech shine as a leader. A couple of decades ago, it was very, very different. And I feel like in some ways I was a pioneer having started the journey in tech in 2000 or so and I was an engineer when I began, so oftentimes I was the only woman in the room or one of three, maybe in an entire workforce of engineers. Never had a network of supportive women around me. And fast forward to now, decades later, I work at a company full of supportive women at all different levels of the organization. So it's some days I have to kind of pinch myself to realize that things have changed so much and that my reality is so different from what it was when I started this journey.
Kate:[00:04:05] And now you have the opportunity to speak to an entire conference full of women in the industry, which is just so powerful. You know what you mentioned your career journey and how you started, you know, about 20 years ago, right within tech. What would you tell your younger self about who you will be in your career? You know, and think aspirational for younger women, you know, who may be listening to this podcast?
Mina:[00:04:41] Oh, that's a tough question because there are so many ways you could, like, break the multiverse rules by telling your past self something wrong. Yeah. What would I tell myself? I think I would tell myself that despite not having female role models nearby, back when I was younger and this is my own situation and despite not feeling very supported as a woman, that there were a lot of things that I was learning day to day, year to year in my career that would ladder up to something that could become a really engaging leadership career. So at the time it didn't feel like I was building towards my future. And I wish I could tell my younger self that, you know, sometimes you don't have to have that visible upward mobility or like other more ostentatious artifacts of how successful you are to really be learning and growing and preparing yourself for the journey ahead. So I think that's what I would tell myself, if I could go back and if I was allowed to cheat, I would tell myself to start practicing cooking so I could start my own side hustle, food cart or something like that.
Kate:[00:05:59] Well, I will be your taste testers, so even if you decide to start that now, sign us up.
Mina:[00:06:07] Good. We'll do.
Ingrid:[00:06:09] For sure. For sure. Yeah, I'll be. I'll be your number one fan there.
Mina:[00:06:15] Careful what you ask for.
Ingrid: [00:06:20] Mina, so going back to something that you mentioned, you know, that you feel supported, which is amazing, and you were sharing a little bit more of your background, you know, feeling, feeling supported. It's it's such an amazing feeling, right? It's such a great thing to to to do, to have and to feel. And it makes me feel and think about empathy, right? Which I believe it has something to do with your topic at Grace Hopper, but I don't want to spoil it for our audience. So yeah, why don't why don't you tell the audience a little bit more about your topic at Grace Hopper.
Mina:[00:07:02] Of course, with pleasure. So you did start to hint at it. My topic is titled An Introverts Guide to Bringing Your Best to the Table. So it's a diversity, equity and inclusion topic. I'm going to be digging into the from the foundations of introversion, what it is, who introverts are in this world. Fun facts, 50% or more of the global population categorizes as introverts. That is a very large chunk of our global population. And when you look at the tech industry, that percentage may even soar higher. So when we're talking about introverts, we're actually not necessarily a minority, but the conversation has only just begun. So what I want to do is to continue the conversation. I've heard some incredibly inspiring talks about introversion by Susan Cain, who wrote a book called Quiet Groundbreaking. I think it was 2012 when she really did, bump up the frequency of this topic in workplace conversations and recently attended a couple of other talks too, and I thought I might have something unique to add myself to this growing buzz around who what is introversion and why does it sometimes feel like workplaces aren't designed necessarily for us? Because sometimes as you go up to leadership levels, not speaking for ADP, but looking across the tech industry, there isn't always representation at the top levels to represent the large, introverted population in the workforce.
Mina:[00:08:47] So I think raising awareness around what it means to be an introvert, what it doesn't mean to be an introvert like just because you're an introvert doesn't mean that you're necessarily shy or socially anxious. It might be one of your traits, but it's not like a 1-to-1. So trying to kind of set a baseline and help women in tech feel validated about who they are. Maybe why, teach them a little bit about why they respond to certain workplace situations? The way that they do that, it's perfectly natural to feel that way and to your point of empathy, really help to empathize with them and thus help them feel supported in who they are. They don't have to change necessarily the core of who they are. We're all born with temperaments. You don't have to completely reverse your temperament in order to be a successful person in tech. So I know that was a lot, but I'm hoping that my talk in a small way will help whoever attends to just feel like they're surrounded by peers and allies. And it's not just for introverts either. I'm going to talk a little about what allies can do, supporters can do to help their introverted coworkers, team members, managers, whoever they want to help and support.
Kate:[00:10:11] So Mina, you mentioned, you know, when you were just sharing with us a little bit or a lot about your topic, you know, you said, you know, what an introvert is and what an introvert isn't, what would be your definition or your description of introverts for all of us listening?
Mina:[00:10:31] It took me a lot of research and learning to get to the point where I could even answer that question knowledgeably. So for those out there who are introverted or extroverted, don't know the answer to this question right away. You're not wrong to feel that way. I did a lot of book reading, internet research to understand who introverts are based on different definitions. Some, like Young, might have his own definition of it, and Myers-Briggs Institute might have a different definition. What I've brought together in my own synthesis of what an introvert is, the person who gains energy from their inner thoughts and ideas. And there's a part of their brain that is wired a little bit differently than an extrovert. It doesn't mean it's wrong or off. It just means there are different ways of processing dopamine is what I've learned. So dopamine is the reward chemical that your brain can process or get overstimulated by. And an introvert actually gets overstimulated. By that reward chemical. So, for instance, if somebody tells me I did a great job on my talk, I might shut down a little bit after my talk at Grace Hopper. That's just how I'm wired. I don't get the buzz that an extrovert might get from that kind of sentiment. So that's kind of those are the two sides of how I define who an introvert is. And then you have a whole a whole array of characteristics that help you notice or spot a potential introvert. None of them are going to be scientific or absolute, but introverts tend to kind of retreat, to recharge. You may notice them observing more than talking during a group situation. They may prefer one on one conversations over larger working sessions. But the misconceptions around an introvert are more around emotions like shyness or lonely or I don't know, like not being passionate enough. So it's really interesting to see what the differences are between the qualities of an introvert that help indicate who has the preference versus the things that society says or used to say define who an introvert is.
Kate:[00:13:05] Ingrid, I think I think we just heard a teaser perhaps for an episode in season three because I want to learn more about that.
Mina:[00:13:15] Come to my talk. It's on September 22nd at 2:30.
Kate: [00:13:20] There you go. September 22nd, 2:30. For anyone attending Grace Hopper. Mina, this was fantastic. Ingrid and I have enjoyed every moment we got to spend with you during this minisode, and I do. I. Ingrid, don't you agree? I think we're feeling a season three episode with Mina coming up.
Ingrid:[00:13:38] Absolutely. Yeah, I'm super excited. And, hey, I wrote it on my book, so if it's on my book, it's happening, just saying.
Mina:[00:13:47] Thank you so much.
Kate:[00:13:48] Mina, I'll be seeing you in Orlando, and thanks for joining us with Life at ADP, the podcast.
Mina:[00:13:54] Awesome. Thank you so much. Looking forward to seeing you in Orlando.
Ingrid:[00:13:57] Thank you, Mina. Good luck.