Nov 12 2021

The Challenges Women Face in Product

Our guest host, Georgia, caught up with Pearly Yee who works in Product at Brainmates. Below we share some highlights from this fascinating discussion.

What is it like being a woman in product?

It’s interesting because I think that there are challenges for women in every industry, so it’s certainly not unique in the product industry, but I think it’s reflected – certainly in digital product management, and tech product management. There are also the challenges we face of being in an industry that is also still very male-dominated.

Often, I think what that can mean is that for a lot of women, and obviously, I can only speak from my experience and there will be some generalisations, there can be a sense that there are those extra challenges from occasionally to really succeed in a product role, particularly where things aren’t necessarily structured in your favour. Where biases can creep up which can really feed into that general sense of imposter syndrome within the tech industry because you are not the norm, necessarily. And it’s something that you must work through from time to time, particularly as you go through your career ladder in product management.

Female attrition from the tech / product space is high, along the lines of 41% for women compared to 17% for men. Do you see this? 

I think that there’s so much talent out there and you see so many incredible women in product who build incredible things and are great at it. When you think about a lot of the behaviours that go to being a great Product Manager, they are again generalisations. I think the characteristics that a lot of women hold, like the ability to make things happen and make sure that you are listening to customers, having a high level of empathy and strong soft skills, let you relate to a diverse set of stakeholders.

We talked a lot about not having the official authority as Product Managers, and the ability to influence. I think that is a notion a lot of women have probably had ingrained for a while, in terms of not having that official authority or even that natural authority to make things happen.

When you see those strengths in a lot of women who do those roles, they know how to work with diverse stakeholders that can often tip into over investing – a lot. Spending a lot of time building those relationships with people and feeling like I really wanted to do a good job.


What can women in product do to ensure they thrive in product? 

Read up about it. Talk to other women about it in the industry. There are some great organisations and groups and content out there. Product Women is one of them and Women in Tech is another; there’s a bunch of places where you can go, and you’ll find people that are having the same challenges as you which they’re working through.

It’s a journey, it takes a while. but know that you’re heading in the right direction and trying to shift those biases. It is hard to do because I think often, for women, there can be standards and biases that can also pop up for women who do speak out about it. And you start to see that reflected in how they recruit and that is interesting.

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