Celebrating Carbon Health’s Women Engineers

Carbon Health Editorial Team
August 24, 2021
8 mins

At Carbon Health, we pride ourselves on combining smart technology with inviting clinics to meet our patients wherever they are. And we couldn’t offer this experience without our dedicated team of software engineers, who are continuously creating easier and better ways for our patients and providers to connect.

As a company, we believe that diversity in engineering — and in all departments — helps us create better, more effective products, which in turn can help more people gain access to better healthcare. We sat down with four of our highly talented women software engineers, who help us advance in our mission to deliver great healthcare to everyone every single day. 

Read on to learn more about these talented women, and why they are such an integral part of our patient and provider experience.

Lauren Carter, Staff Software Engineer

Carbon Health Editors: Tell us a little about your background and how you got into engineering.

Lauren Carter: I studied computer and systems engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (in Troy, New York). I always knew I would be in a computer-related field — from the day my dad brought home our first computer. I always thought I’d be in design since that’s where I dabbled, but when I was 16, I attended a summer high school program at Columbia University. The class was called Intro to Programming in C (I still have the book), and that’s when I fell in love with programming and realized how much I love solving problems. 

CHE: How does Carbon Health empower female engineers?

LC: The engineering culture at Carbon Health is focused on inclusivity. Creating a more inclusive environment gives female engineers room to vocalize their ideas on a level playing field.  

CHE: What is the most gratifying thing about your role? 

LC: The opportunity to support people in being their best selves while also being able to write code and solve challenging problems.

CHE: Who are some of your role models?

LC: I could list a lot of folks here, but by far and away my parents. My dad was the first feminist I knew. He made sure my mom, sister, and I all had the best education possible no matter what the sacrifice meant for him. He also instilled a love of math and technology in me. My mom is, by far, the person who is the most generous with her time and wisdom. She has used her experience and knowledge throughout the years to run one of the largest high schools on Long Island.... My mom always makes time to listen to and coach others around her to make important decisions about their careers and their families.

Magdalena Cooper, Product Engineer, Enterprise Engineering 

Carbon Health Editors: Tell us a little about your background and how you got into engineering.

Magdalena Cooper: Before becoming an engineer, I worked at an international education organization focused on innovative literacy solutions in ten countries across Africa and Asia. I’ve always been interested in how technology can be used to help underserved populations. Most recently, I was at Room to Read, an international education organization, in a variety of roles. My time there is what really drove home for me the role that technology can have on our ability to drive impact. 

One of my primary responsibilities [at Room to Read] was to work closely with the IT team to improve processes. In doing so, I really started to understand that having technology that is working for us gives us the time to spend figuring out how we can continually improve and create a greater impact.

CHE: How does Carbon Health empower women engineers?

MC: Carbon Health has been very supportive of female engineers, as well as engineers from less represented groups, in a couple of ways. 

First, they interview them. 

Once in the door, I was welcomed by all of the female engineers, as well as Claire Hough, our CTO. We have a Slack channel dedicated to women in engineering and data science, where we can bring up issues and thoughts we are having, as well as support one another. Claire has also been really great about sitting down with all new engineers and asking how we can make a positive work environment. She takes all suggestions very seriously. 

Annie Giang, Software Engineer 

Carbon Health Editors: Tell us a little about your background and how you got into engineering.

Annie Giang: I graduated from UC Berkeley in 2018 and majored in cognitive science. My first taste of programming was during university. I took courses catered to programming cognitive processes in Python. I later discovered software engineering and quickly became hooked. I built small projects as a hobby and later attended a bootcamp to further develop my skill set. 

CHE: When did you first realize you wanted to be an engineer?

AG: I realized I wanted to be an engineer while learning web development on Udemy. The lessons were so fun and challenging. It was so rewarding to turn ideas into reality, especially after hours of debugging!

CHE: How does Carbon Health empower female engineers?

AG: Carbon strongly believes in diversity and inclusion.... As a female engineer, I feel encouraged to contribute and supported by leadership and my coworkers in my day-to-day tasks.

CHE: What are some obstacles you had to overcome in your career or personal life that have strengthened and shaped you into who you are today?

AG: It took me a while to recognize my worth as an engineer. I didn’t have a CS degree, nor did I have any experience. What really helped was surrounding myself with people who were passionate about software engineering. Whether it was doing a bootcamp, building projects as a hobby, or working on open source projects, I kept myself motivated to improve and learn. 

CHE: What is the most gratifying thing about your role? 

AG: What’s really gratifying is working alongside people who are passionate about their work and Carbon Health’s mission. As a junior engineer, I’m learning so much from my coworkers. Most of all, I feel inspired and motivated every day to make an impact and contribute to our mission.

 CHE: How has the COVID-19 crisis changed the way you look at healthcare?

AG: The crisis has really unearthed existing issues that have been plaguing the healthcare system. The crisis was a time when many people lost their jobs and, consequently, lost their healthcare coverage. Healthcare shouldn’t just be accessible; it should be affordable, even for those without insurance. I’m proud that Carbon Heath is tackling this very issue. 

Hanah Yendler, Full Stack Software Engineer, Product

Carbon Health Editors: When did you first realize you wanted to be an engineer?

Hanah Yendler: I was about as far away from engineering as you could get. I studied pirate history (yes, “arrrgh” pirates) at university and was on track for a history PhD. Turns out, research was definitely not for me, so I went to a variety of jobs: admin assistant, makeup artist, recruiter, food educator at Stanford, etc. While working at Stanford, I took night classes and figured since I am fairly artistic, maybe I should look into graphic design, UI/UX, and so on. I took one coding class and fell completely in love. I loved the fact that it is problem solving in its purest form, and, unlike math, I actually got a usable product at the end, something that can help people.  

CHE: What are some obstacles you had to overcome in your career or personal life that have strengthened and shaped you into who you are today?

HY: I think there are two obstacles — lack of female representation in engineering and imposter syndrome.

Funnily enough, I never even considered software engineering. Like, staunchly refused (I even made fun of being a software engineer in my pirate thesis presentation). And looking back, it’s because of all of the terrible stereotypes of engineers. Engineering looked boring, tedious, and very male. Why would I, as a history, literature, and theater-loving nerd, ever consider software? As such, lack of female representation was a huge obstacle in even considering becoming an engineer.

Once I started down the path of software engineering, the thing that held me back was major, major imposter syndrome. It actually took me six months to work up the nerve to apply to a coding bootcamp. When I finally applied, I found out I was almost overqualified because I had spent so much time studying. Every little coding setback or unsolvable problem made me feel like I couldn’t do it.... I still sometimes have fleeting feelings that I don’t belong or can’t do it. But I thankfully rely on both my track record and growth mindset to keep pushing through.     

CHE: How does Carbon Health empower female engineers?

HY: By providing the resources they need the most. By caring about their growth and professional development. By looking at the whole experience of being an engineer holistically. By having a kick-ass woman CTO who gets it

Most women in the field of software engineering are entering now as junior engineers. As a result, if you want to have more female engineers (and diversity in general), you need to support junior engineers. This starts from the very beginning. How are you recruiting? How are you interviewing? At Carbon Health, we look at a diverse number of pipelines for recruiting. From an interviewing standpoint, we give people choices in their interview process so they can have the opportunity to present themselves how they want.  

Then, when junior engineers enter Carbon Health, they are set up for success in a few different ways. First, there is an intensive, all-encompassing onboarding that everyone goes through. Second, people are very thoughtfully put on teams where they can be supported and achieve their growth goals. Third, learning doesn’t stop at onboarding — we have an engineering learning and development manager focused on continuing education. Do you know how rare it is that an engineering team of our size has an engineering L&D manager? Unheard of, actually. But that is how much Carbon Health cares about allocating resources and support to our engineers. And here’s the best thing — all of the things that set up female engineers for success actually help all engineers be successful.

Lastly, I can’t give enough credit to Claire Hough, our CTO. Claire was the one that insisted on improving interviewing processes. Claire was the one that allocated resources to hire an engineering L&D manager. Claire was the one that supported initiatives around documentation and improvement of the engineer development experience. I can’t thank Claire enough for her wisdom, guidance, and support.

CHE: Why did you decide to join Carbon Health?

HY: For two reasons: the mission and the people. The mission to provide accessible and affordable healthcare really spoke to me (as well as all the superhuman work Carbon Health accomplished during COVID-19 to provide access to testing and vaccines).  

CHE: What surprises you about your coworkers?

HY: Just how freaking smart and caring they are. I got that as a vague impression while I was interviewing, but I am continually surprised by how that continues to be true, even during stressful deadlines and complex projects. Everyone is so incredibly kind and always willing to help. Like, always

Carbon Health is, hands down, one of the best workplaces I have ever been at. I feel incredibly supported in both my professional growth and my personal life. I am also so proud to be working on the mission as well. I love working with our doctors to try to make their critical work tools better.

Interested in joining us on our mission to make high-quality healthcare accessible to everyone? We’re currently hiring engineers! Check out our tech, engineering, and data science job openings.

Carbon Health Editorial Team

The Carbon Health Editorial Team is a group of writers, content creators, and thought leaders who are here to empower you to take charge of your health.