Meet the Women of The Zebra

Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. And here’s what we at The Zebra have to say about that:

International Women’s Day is a day to recognize and celebrate all that women have achieved in today’s society and the progress that has been made towards gender parity. However, for all the progress that has been made, we’re not there yet. Thus, it is also a time to reflect on how we as a company and as individuals can do more to help women receive equal standing and respect in the workplace and in our communities.

At The Zebra, we work in a tech industry where women have long been underrepresented. Yet, our experience, and that of many others, is that diverse and inclusive teams produce the best results and environments. We wouldn’t be where we are as a company without the contributions of the women on our team. The variety of thought they’ve brought and the experiences they’ve created have been critical in our goal of creating an energized, cohesive, collaborative, innovative and productive workplace.

The Zebra team pledges to continue to work towards gender parity within our company and within the broader tech industry.

Learn more about International Women’s Day and ways you can get involved here.

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Who Are the Women of The Zebra?

While we would be thrilled to take this opportunity to laud the many brilliant and innovative women in technology, in insurance, in disruptive industries, startups, culture, government, our personal lives, and so on… the lists would scroll for ages. So we chose to highlight several women “closer to home,” so to speak, who help define The Zebra as a company, a place of work, a product, and a community. A few members of our spectacular team have shared part of their own stories with you here. Get to know some of these Women of The Zebra

Who inspires you?

  • My boss and my closest female friends – Manijeh
  • I am a huge fan of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. They’re smart, funny, and aren’t afraid to speak their minds. I listen to both of their audiobooks regularly for some inspiration (and some laughs). They’re kicking ass in the very-male-dominated comedy scene and have had to fight the “women aren’t funny” bias that is still pervasive in our society – really. I can’t believe people still think that. – Cristy
  • My family inspires me to be better. I definitely get my work ethic and business savviness from my dad. – Chieu
  • My mom, sisters, and really all the women in my family. They’ve all got their own stories, but each works so hard to be excellent at what they do. – Alyssa
  • Lena Dunham – she’s hilarious, and she’s a famous person who cares about the issues affecting modern day society. She’s philanthropic and a huge advocate for women’s rights. | Michelle Obama – for obvious reasons. She was an incredible role model during her time as First Lady. | My mom – she’s an incredibly independent woman who knows how to get things done. She’s tough, yet compassionate. Always thinking about ways she can contribute to the greater good of society. – Jessie
  • My mom! She stands her ground for what she believes in, and is an excellent example of what a strong woman looks like. – Kim

How do you push yourself to be better in your career?

  • One of the first things I ever learned from my triathlon coach is that “there’s no comfort in your growth zone and no growth in your comfort zone.” When I started to feel stagnant in my previous career, I took a major leap into the world of software development by enrolling in a coding bootcamp. It took a lot of hard work, and a bit of luck, but it ultimately paid off and I couldn’t be more confident that I made the right decision. – Lili
  • Throughout my career I have always pushed myself to take on more responsibility, or accept a bigger job before I felt I was 100% ready. The only way to learn and move up is by getting out of your comfort zone and teaching yourself new skills. I’ve also taken a few leadership courses to learn how to more effectively communicate cross departmentally, up and down which has been a great asset to have working in a management role and being responsible for a department. – Jessie
  • I believe if there’s a will, there’s a way. It may not be risk-taking, but it does take courage to push forward and not take “no” for an answer. – Chieu
  • I moved to Austin for the opportunity to work with The Zebra leadership. Moving for a startup was a bit scary, but I had to take the risk for the opportunity to work with a team of that caliber. – Manijeh
  • I let my career evolve with opportunities. I thought I’d be a journalist but realized I liked a different, more creative and strategic form of writing, which has led me to new roles and skills I never thought I’d have an interest in exploring. It might sound more passive than “pushing myself” but it’s been a challenge for me to change course from what’s comfortable, and it’s led me to some fantastic things. – Alyssa

How do you push yourself to be better in your life outside your career?

  • I did a half marathon. For someone who never thought she would be a ‘runner’ this seemed crazy. I kinda never want to do it again, but it’s one of those things that I decided I wanted to do, I trained, I pushed myself to the limits to remind myself that I can do things I never thought possible if I put my mind to it and don’t give up. – Manijeh
  • I once made a new year’s resolution to learn something new every month. Now I know how to drive stick and can talk about personal finance topics, among other things. I also learned that I can’t decorate a cupcake no matter how hard I try! :) – Kim
  • I read a lot and challenge myself to do new things or think about things in a new way. – Chieu
  • Every day I try to write for five minutes, and just before bed, I read for five minutes. Sometimes these goals are easy. Other days I’m so tired, I can’t even keep my eyes open long enough to read one page. Then there are the days where I feel like I don’t get a chance to do either activity at all, but I don’t beat myself up for this “failure.” I forgive myself and try again the next day. – Cristy
  • Since doing my first triathlon in 2011, I’ve completed two Ironman triathlons (and plan on doing a third once I forget how miserable my last one was.) As cheesy as it may sound, these races taught me that with enough discipline and determination, I really can accomplish just about anything I set my mind to. – Lili
  • I like to stay active in my life outside my career. Exercise is important to me. It keeps me energized and feeling more sharp so I can be better in my career too. I love hot yoga especially – the dual benefit of meditation and physical exercise keeps me feeling well rounded both mentally and physically. – Jessie

What do you do for fun?

  • I’m a big soccer fan. Saturday/Sunday mornings you can find me in front of a TV with a coffee, breakfast taco, and ma kitties watching the Premier League. I also play in leagues around Austin. – Ava
  • Baking, playing with my dogs, and traveling the world with my soon-to-be husband! – Kim
  • Surfing, snowboarding, golfing, yoga, travel, and piano – Jessie
  • Soccer, hiking, traveling, and really anything outside with good people – Alyssa
  • People close to me know that I’m obsessed with comedy and improv. I watch a lot of comedy shows, attend festivals, and am in three improv troupes. I’m also a huge fan of television. Tweet to me about Jane the Virgin, The Crown, Westworld, or Game of Thrones. But no spoilers, please! – Cristy
  • Baking, enjoying wine with friends Manijeh

What songs get you pumped up?

  • Good as Hell by Lizzo. Go listen to it. Now. – Lili
  • Dancing With Myself – Billy Idol – Kim
  • Runaway Baby – Bruno Mars – Manijeh
  • X Gon’ Give It To Ya – DMX – Chieu
  • Hedwig’s Theme – John Williams. And no, not kidding. – Ava
  • The entire Hamilton soundtrack! – Cristy
  • Rollercoaster – Bleachers – Alyssa

What’s on your Bucket List?

  • Move to a new city; visit Patagonia; become a good public speaker; run a 10k – Jessie
  • Travel WAY more – anywhere! And sing on a stage in Austin (ha!) – Manijeh
  • Spend six months or a year traveling the world; see the Northern Lights, Great Barrier Reef, Taj Mahal…and on and on – Alyssa
  • I would like to live abroad for at least a year. – Lili
  • I want to learn how to row. I heard it’s great exercise. :) – Chieu

How do you relax or “treat yo’self?”

  • I’ve fallen back in love with reading. I’m online all day, and there’s just something special about moving away from a computer and reading a paperback. – Cristy
  • Wine night with great friends, tunes, and Trader Joe’s snacks. And massages! I need more massages in my life. – Alyssa
  • Spa day with pedi! – Chieu
  • A massage if I’m splurging. Reruns of Friends if I just need quiet time! – Kim
  • Definitely by the water and under the sun. Preferably with a drink in hand. – Jessie
  • My favorite way to indulge is to treat myself to dinner at a cool new restaurant around town. When I want to relax, I like to brew myself some coffee and just gaze lovingly into my dog’s eyes. – Lili

What cause do you care about?

  • Education for girls! Specifically in STEM fields. #mathrocks – Kim
  • American Heart Association, CHOC hospital – Manijeh
  • I’m pretty passionate about volunteering with Austin Pets Alive! and animal rights in general. I essentially have a part time job with an animal shelter where I do data work aimed at volunteer retention and optimization as well as actually walking and taking care of the dogs. Spending time with them and working with the leadership team at Austin Pets Alive! is something I crave doing and is immensely rewarding. – Ava
  • I support mental health awareness and strongly encourage education and conversation around it. – Chieu
  • Outside of work I’m involved in Women Who Code, a global nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring women to excel in technology careers by creating a global, connected community of women in technology.Lili
  • Global education, free press, and internet access – Alyssa

What’s your proudest accomplishment?

  • Completing a half marathon last year – Ava
  • My proudest accomplishment is establishing a career in software development.Lili
  • Moving away on my own after college. I wanted to become more independent, and I did! – Kim
  • I’m the first person in my immediate family to graduate from college. I grew up in a small, ranch town in the Rio Grande Valley, an area where Teach for America sends their recruits. The move from a socioeconomically disadvantaged area to Austin was difficult, but I’m glad I did it. It felt so impossible at times. Now I’m just waiting for my younger brother to graduate and then we’ll have two college graduates in the family! Cristy
  • Buying a house this year! Manijeh

What are some challenges you’ve faced in the workplace?

  • Women tend to jump in where needed, and that can end up leaving us feeling taken advantage of, or ultimately having more put on our plate than is fair.  I think often times our abilities are underestimated. Assumptions of what we can and can’t do is much different than those for men, but hey – just makes it sweeter when we exceed those expectations ;) – Manijeh
  • I once had an employer who told me that my voice was too high and that I should practice speaking in a lower pitch. That same employer also told me that I should wear glasses to make me look older and smarter. – Cristy
  • Being a minority, I’ve dealt with quite a bit of racism and sexism. I also haven’t had a traditional education route. You probably won’t believe the number of times I’ve been told I wasn’t capable of X, Y, or Z or that I wasn’t good enough. To all the naysayers, I tell them to watch and see. To those who deal with this, shake them haters off and don’t ever let anyone else tell you what you’re worth. – Chieu
  • I’ve been fortunate to have never faced discrimination in the work place, but one common challenge amongst software developers in the tech industry is Imposter Syndrome. I, like many other developers, am not immune to it. It can be hard to fight feelings of inadequacy, but it’s important to show up every day, maintain a positive attitude, and always celebrate the small wins.Lili

Here’s to supporting women. Happy International Women’s Day!