Women in Agile: The Changing Face of Agile – Session Notes

October 11, 2016 at 2:13 pm Leave a comment

In this post, I will share my notes on a presentation about Women in Agile given for the Agile Alliance.

screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-12-44-17-pm

In this video, Natalie Warnert, the chair of Agile Alliance’s Women in Agile Initiative, explains the background behind the program. Then Cindy Morse, VP of Engineering Operations at Salesforce Marketing Cloud discusses her involvement and experiences in the greater technology community. This workshop is part of the Women in Agile Initiative.
– Description from the Agile Alliance web page.


Natalie started the presentation by showing a slide of the Agile Manifesto. It is symptomatic of the gender problem in Agile: all the signatories to the Agile Manifesto were men.

What prevents women from being more acitve?
(Topic of her master’s thesis)

  • The general gender disparity in STEM
  • Survey of the Agile community
    • What prevents you from becoming involved in the Agile community
      • Competing priorities for time
      • Organizational and career reasons
        • Involvement is much higher when it is supported by organizations
      • Lack of confidence, fear of perception from others
        • Men report this reason for themselves at a higher rate than women
        • Women reported this reason for other women!
      • Intimidation from lack of diversity
        • 60% of men thought this was the reason for women. Most women said it wasn’t a reason for them.
    • What prevents women from becoming more involved

Cindy Morse gave the second half of the presentation. She is VP of Engineering Operations at Salesforce Marketing Cloud (2,000 employees, a sub company of Salesforce). Cindy started out by telling us that her degree is in Journalism and she has only written one hour of code (for Hour of Code). She isn’t really into coding, but she is passonate about people and processes and Agile is all about people and processes!

Salesforce is big on female empowerment and gender diversity
They do thinks like send women to leadership meetings

After her company was bought by sales force they had a meeting with their new manager. He asked her and other directors: What are our engineers working on every day, and who should be on the squad? She had to go find out!

Squad: a way of delivering software. At their company they only partially implemented it. Salesforce adopted agile in 2006. (They hadn’t delivered a new feature in a year!)

Reasons they got into Agile: Prioritization, Visibility, Predictability, and Quality

Cindy pitches agile every day! Salesforce has an Agile brand, ADM(?).

Go forward strategy: Create a roadmap (playbook), train leadership and increase invovement, augment the transformation team, Scrum roles and responsibilities, transform by product, clear and meaningful vision, change maangement, metrics.

Agile is more than doing a daily standup!

Agile is a killer space for Women (and everyone) in T & P.

Agile lets you become a subject matter expert and get a seat at the table even if you aren’t an enginner.

Since most of the current leaders are male, women often will get into leadership by having a male mentor.

Take aways: Agile is a relatively new practice and there are big opportunities for women to become Agile experts (since there aren’t very many experts yet). Agile is built around multi-disciplinary teams so women who aren’t engineers can have an equal place on product development teams.

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