At The Walt Disney Company, Business Employee Resource Groups (BERGs) are formed around a shared identity, interest or pursuit. These employee-led groups offer insights, support, career development and community engagement, ensuring there is something for everyone.
The Women + Tech BERG is one group that celebrates the diversity that women and non-binary people bring to the technology industry. We interviewed four technologists about their unique experiences working at Disney and belonging to the Women + Tech BERG. Read all about it below!
Tell us about your role! What do your day-to-day responsibilities look like?
Ashley: I am a Manager of Products for Interactive Experiences within Technology & Digital at Disney Experiences. I bring immersive and interactive products to the parks for our guests to enjoy and further immerse themselves in. I have worked on the Play Disney Parks app, the launch of MagicBand+ at both Walt Disney World® and Disneyland® Resorts, the Disney Fab 50 Quest and the Star Wars: Batuu Bounty Hunters Quest at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Maitri: As a Senior Software Engineer within Disney Entertainment & ESPN Technology, I focus on backend development. My role encompasses the creation of new services and enhancing existing ones that fall under our team’s ownership. In addition to the technical aspect, my responsibilities include effective communication and mentoring new hires and interns.
Nancy: I am currently a Manager of Technology Portfolio and Project Management for Disney Experiences Technology & Digital. Everyday can be completely different on my team. Some days we are strategizing the best approach for delivering a project, and other days we are building financial roadmaps of how technology can support and advance our businesses.
Dani: I am a Software Engineer I within Disney Entertainment & ESPN Technology. I work on eight different websites that Disney employees use internally. These range from apps that allow teams to request budget for projects to apps that aid in responding to major outages. Due to this variety, it is rare that two days will look the same.
Who or what inspired you to join the Women + Tech BERG?
Maitri: Driven by a commitment to giving back, I actively volunteer my time with various organizations, focusing on advocating for STEM education for young girls and women. Upon joining Disney, the Women + Tech BERG immediately stood out as a great resource providing an excellent platform to explore Disney’s commitment to areas I deeply care about.
Dani: I participated in a lot of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) work in university, and I always strive to make every space a more welcoming one. Being a woman in a male-dominated field, along with being disabled and queer, I have not always felt as comfortable as I should in many spaces. If I ever have an opportunity to make a space better for myself and others, I am going to do so to help others avoid ever feeling that discomfort.
Do you have a memorable experience that came from the BERG?
Ashley: Attending the Grace Hopper Celebration in Orlando this past year was a great reminder of how far women and non-binary people have come in the technology industry and how far we have to go. I was able to meet not only women technologists within Disney but also women who are interested in getting into technology.
Nancy: My favorite experiences have always been the community outreach initiatives. The Orlando Science Center hosts a Spark STEM Fest every year, and we continue to share our passion of STEM advocacy through this annual event. Additionally, we’ve had the opportunity to partner with local Boys and Girls Clubs, and we are always looking for ways to support STEM in the community.
Dani: During Pride Month last year, I threw a small Pride social for the Seattle office through our BERG. While I am an openly lesbian and transgender woman, I often struggle to find other openly queer people at work. This event was a huge exception! Not only did I get to meet a transgender coworker for the first time, but I also got to meet other early-career queer women. This meant a lot to me for building my workplace support network.
What is something you’ve learned from a peer or a mentor within the BERG?
Maitri: A key lesson for me has been to confidently ask for what you believe you deserve. There is a 50% chance that you get what you asked for. But if you never ask, it is a 100% no.
Nancy: First, there is difference between a mentor and sponsor, and you should always have both. Second, your unique competitive advantage is being your authentic self, no one can be you better than you can! Third, what got you here, won’t get you there – you should always prioritize your professional development and be expanding your network.
Why is the Women + Tech BERG important to you?
Ashley: Women in Technology, especially moms, are very underrepresented. I want to highlight all of the great women and non-binary technologists at Disney who are breaking barriers in technology, give other women and non-binary technologists a chance to network and learn from one another and inspire others to pursue a career in tech.
Dani: Being a woman in tech can sometimes feel rather isolating. The reality is that the industry is still not close to equity in gender representation. There are many meetings where I am the only woman present. This is not to say that all is bad, but there is still a gap to be bridged. The Women + Tech BERG helps to bridge that gap and reduce my isolation. With every meeting and event, I know I will be surrounded by other fellow women and gender-minorities (as well as allies)! I have become legitimate friends with a lot of these wonderful people, and it helps make each day at work a little bit brighter.