Women Who Code x Mercari: In-Office Lightning Talks

In January, Mercari hosted a Lightning Talk Night in our Tokyo office in collaboration with Women Who Code (WWCode) Japan.

Women Who Code is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering diverse women to excel in technology careers. This community supports women by organizing workshops and talks and sharing resources to inspire them in their career growth.

Inclusion and Diversity, and more specifically helping women to thrive in the tech world, is an important topic for Mercari, and we are proud to be partnering with such an amazing organization.

The event was a fantastic opportunity to meet some great members of the Tokyo tech community and discuss some important topics. We had three amazing speakers: Mercari engineering director Snehal Shinde, Betty Le Dem, machine learning engineer at Woven by Toyota, and Mana (Maddy) Sugiyoshi, who is a UI/UX engineer at Rakuten.

“Web accessibility: Why should I care?” by Maddy Sugiyoshi, UI/UX Engineer at Rakuten

Maddy delivered an engaging presentation on web accessibility, explaining its significance and why it should matter to us.

Web accessibility refers to the inclusive practice of removing barriers that prevent interaction with or access to websites by people with disabilities. When sites are correctly designed, developed, and edited, all users have equal access to information and functionality. This means that websites, tools, and technologies must be designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them. Web accessibility encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the web, including auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual disabilities.

It was enlightening to learn how various disabilities can impact web accessibility and about the responsibility that corporations have, including in Japan, where the revised Act for Eliminating Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities has gone into effect on April 1, 2024, making it compulsory for private business operators to offer “reasonable accommodation” to individuals with disabilities and subsequently drawing attention to the topic of web accessibility as well. In the US, numerous high-profile companies have faced lawsuits over this issue.

“Crafting Habits: The Path to Good Software Hygiene” by Betty Le Dem, Machine Learning Engineer at Woven by Toyota

In this presentation, Betty shared sets of habits and mindsets that helped her to be more efficient and confident in her code. Her work philosophy was intriguing to hear: “Becoming good at coding is hard. Becoming better at coding is feasible.”

From her personal journey, Betty offered some thought-provoking advice to achieve cleaner code that began with the basics of familiarizing oneself with the tools and ensuring a neat workspace and included learning from seasoned experts’ best practices and leveraging the latest technologies such as GenAI.

In her wrap-up, Betty underscored the necessity of maintaining the enjoyment in coding and also identifying a style that suits you.

The Path to Good Software Hygiene By Crafting Good Habits

“Resilience and Leadership: Thriving in Tech” by Snehal Shinde, Engineering Director at Mercari

The lightning talks concluded with Snehal sharing her personal journey in the tech industry, from starting as an iOS intern to becoming a Director of Engineering at Mercari.

She introduced the concept of “VUCA,” an acronym for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity, typically used to describe the unpredictable and rapidly changing environment in the business world. In this “VUCA” landscape, Snehal emphasized resilience as the critical attribute that allows engineers, especially women who face additional challenges like gender bias, to thrive. During her talk, she discussed how building resilience involves having self-awareness and a growth mindset.

On the topic of leadership, she underscored influence as a vital characteristic for effective leaders. Additionally, Snehal discussed a common issue often raised in women in tech discussions—the impostor syndrome—and offered tips on how to combat it.

Resilience and Leadership: Thriving in Tech

This Women Who Code x Mercari meetup was a fantastic experience, marking the first time we were able to host a Women Who code meetup in a long while. Before the pandemic, Mercari frequently hosted WWCode meetups, and we’re thrilled to be able to restart this collaboration and support the communities that can make a difference in Japan.

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