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Women’s History Month looks at the achievements women have made over the years. It is a time to honor the women in our lives who have made a difference and encourage the continued advancement of gender equality. At Cadence, we want to recognize the women who have made an impact on our company and the future of technology.
This month, I had the opportunity to interview Alessandra Costa, Vice President of North America Field Engineering at Cadence, to reflect on the meaning and significance of Women’s History Month. Ale and her team are responsible for the deployment and support of Cadence tools and solutions for the semiconductor industry in North America. She is also a strong advocate and supporter of diversity in technology. She founded WOW (“Women of Worldwide Field Operations”) to attract, retain, and promote women in Sales and the larger Cadence organization. She has also implemented women’s leadership, mentorship, and returnship programs.
Her passion for advancing women in the workplace is truly inspiring and I was excited to hear her thoughts about women in leadership and the importance of self-empowerment and uplifting one another. Read below for my full conversation with Ale!
What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
First of all, I’m happy every time we find a way to celebrate women’s contributions in the workforce, in addition to celebrating the contributions at home, where women are often the main caregivers. I’m very happy about the acknowledgment and the opportunity it offers to think about the important role of women in society in general. Having said that, from a certain standpoint, I cannot wait for a time where there will be no reason to consciously give special recognition to women, especially in the business environment, because we will have reached parity and equality. I look forward to when we will be treated exactly the same as everybody else.
Who are some women who have inspired you and why?
In recent times, I’ve found myself thinking about my mother quite a bit. My mother is not with me anymore. She passed a while back—more than 20 years ago. Our relationship was, at times, troubled because we both had strong personalities. But thinking back on our time together, I never really appreciated the commitment she had both to her job and her family. My mom was a doctor, so she worked long hours, but she always found a way to be part of the family and be with me and my dad. I would say that now that I work and have a family myself, I have a much better understanding of how much she had to stretch and how challenging her life must have been at that time.
Why do we need more women in leadership?
In general, we need more diversity in leadership, and gender diversity is one of the ways we can do that. Women change the conversation and look at problems in a way that is often different from men. I am a deep believer that innovation stems from diversity. Taking a closer look at gender diversity is one good starting point to fuel new thought.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would say to be more daring and less judgmental towards myself, especially when reflecting back on the beginning of my career. I used to set the bar very high for myself back then and still do the same now. However, the difference is that now I’ve learned to be more forgiving towards myself when things don’t always go exactly how I planned. I have learned how to move on, while in the past I was the harshest critic of my own performance.
How important is it for women to uplift each other and what does that mean to you?
I think there is often a perception, and perhaps even a stigma, that a woman’s worst enemy is another woman. I’ve found that to be so untrue—I get so much support from my circle of women, both in my personal life and in my professional life. And without them, I wouldn’t have been able to pull through with all the challenges, which includes living the last year in isolation. I think it has been extremely helpful to have my women friends around in my work and at home. And I think, again, we offer a different perspective to each other, sometimes a more nurturing perspective where we better understand our emotional language.