Meet the Woman Who Spends Her Entire Day on Instagram
How many times a day do you go on Instagram? If you’re Brina Lee, it’s more than the normal user. And it’s not because she’s addicted to taking selfies. It’s because as Instagram’s first female engineer, it’s literally her job. ELLE spoke to the UC San Diego alum about how she fell into engineering, what it’s like working in a male-centric office, and of course, what her favorite filter is.
- How did you get interested in engineering and coding?
My dad’s an electrical engineer, so I always had the latest and greatest technology. But I wasn’t interested in coding. I hated it. My first class of coding was in high school and it was so boring. And then I got to web coding, which is very much instant gratification. I could just code something, refresh the page, and see it pop up in a picture. That’s when I started getting interested. I decided to take some more classes and ended up loving it.
- For people who don’t know what engineering is, can you give us a crash course?
Engineering can be a bunch of things. In all cases, engineering is building things, whether it be with your hands like a mechanical engineer, or with code. To me it’s a creative tool to build communication in many different ways. And solving problems.
- We all know that there’s a huge gender gap in this field. Were you able to find any female mentors?
No. I had to seek them out. A lot of the women in the field don’t stand out or push themselves to say “Hey look at me,” or “I’m really good at what I do.”
- Do you recognize the gender gap on a day-to-day basis at work?
Yeah. I think when I talk in a meeting [I] have to talk more assertively, even kind of lowering your voice helps sometimes. It’s hard as an entry-level engineer to even build your reputation in a company, so I’m not sure if it’s being a woman, but I’m pretty sure it does hinder me a little bit compared to an entry-level male. You have to be more aware as a woman. You have to understand that you may not be listened to, you may not be respected as much as the male engineers. I think a lot of women say they run into the Imposter Syndrome—that we’re not taking credit where we deserve credit. For women it’s really hard to internalize our own accomplishments
- Who are some of the women you’ve been able to look up to in your career?
It’s great now that Instagram is a part of Facebook, so we can leverage all the women here! It’s so awesome seeing Jocelyn [Goldfein]. She’s one of the highest engineering directors here at Facebook, and because Sheryl’s at the top, I think all the male engineers here do look at women differently and allow us to go up the ladder.
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