Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day at PassiveLogic

International Women in Engineering Day honors women in engineering roles around the world, highlighting their contributions, creativity, and leadership that drive their industries forward. The need to cultivate an interest in engineering among women, and support those women is acute. According to the American Association of University Women, women make up only 28 percent of the work force in science technology, engineering, and math. Further, a recent study by the International Energy Agency (IEA) concluded that women only account for 16 percent of the traditional energy sector. As a company sitting at the intersection of cutting edge engineering and the future of energy management and control, PassiveLogic recognizes the urgency of building and retaining a diverse workforce that supports the best engineers in the world, who ever and where ever they are.

Simply wanting to foster equity and diversity is not enough. PassiveLogic’s leadership designed the company to support equality in several critical ways, including its organizational design and compensation calculation.

All employees are only 1–2 steps away from the CEO, enabling all employees to collaborate directly with leadership, be encouraged to innovate at all stages, especially as early-career employees. As a result, 5 out of 13 of our technical leads started off at PassiveLogic as entry-level engineers, and of those 5 technical leads who rose to their position from entry-level, two of them are women. Today, these incredible women run their own technical teams that contribute directly to the company’s innovation.

PassiveLogic also developed its Equitable Compensation Calculator as a tool to operationalize our core principles of equity and sustainability. We generate employment offers and salary increase using the Equitable Compensation Calculator. It considers objective inputs like experience, expertise, education, technical challenge score (if applicable), and location-based cost of living as the only parameters to ensure equitable compensation across gender, age, ethnicity, employment gaps, and other identity factors. This ensures variations in employee pay are accounted for based on merit. Further, it supports PassiveLogic’s core value of employee ownership (ensuring equity and an ethos of “we all win together”) by calculating Employee Stock Options as part of each employee’s total compensation.

The IEA report further noted: “There is an urgency for countries to attract and retain a diverse workforce in the energy sector to ensure innovation and the inclusive perspectives needed to successfully navigate the low‑carbon energy transition.” We decided to talk with some of the engineers who are women at PassiveLogic about their careers, their perspectives, and what it means to them to work at company helping lead the energy transition.

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“I like the Earth and I like to be challenged,” remarked Katerina Tafoya, a Tools Software Engineer on the Cloud Team at PassiveLogic, when asked why she joined the company. Katerina is not alone in that sentiment. Across the board, the engineers at PassiveLogic appreciated the unique convergence of opportunities available to them here. Alexa Kalandiak, Head of Physical Product Design, said she valued working on a product that will have a net good on the world. “I’m not creating just to put something on an Amazon shelf.”

Before her time as a software engineer, Sarah Schuster-Johnson, Quantum Lead Software Engineer, was a documentary filmmaker focused on telling stories that could help change the world. When she went back to school for a Masters in Software Development, she was driven by the same passion. She joined the company in her final semester of school as an intern, attracted by its focus on the environment and sustainability combined with its start-up stage. “Having a larger impact on our carbon footprint is really attractive to me,” she remarked.

Zohreh Shaghaghian, a Generative Design Engineer on the Building Studio Team, also came to PassiveLogic through a less traditional route. She holds a bachelors, masters, and PhD, all in architecture! Throughout her education, Zohreh explored the intersection of digital innovation and architecture, working to understand how architecture could adopt more modern technologies to enable better design and collaboration with all building stakeholders. That brought her to PassiveLogic, where she provides her team with unique insights on what the future users of her team’s product will need and want.

Unanimous among our engineers was the sentiment that PassiveLogic has challenged them intellectually and supported their growth. Katerina noted that at PassiveLogic there are constant opportunities for learning. Alexa added that in her time here, she has worked with the smartest people she’s ever met. Sarah appreciated that all the work at PassiveLogic combines team-work with a sense of ownership over your work. “You’re not just a cog in the machine.” Zohreh remarked, “The people I’m working with are talented, supportive, and open-minded in training. They let you explore and grow and don’t expect you to come with a static background.”

When asked what advice they would give to younger women interested in engineering, our engineers all emphasized the importance of confidence, especially in addressing feelings of imposter syndrome. Alexa remarked, “if you want to be here, you belong here. You have a right to be here as much as anyone else.” Our team members emphasized that engineers from non-traditional backgrounds offer unique insights on their work that may not have been considered before. Katerina said, “I think differently as a woman. When I chime in, I have different perspectives.” Sarah noted that it is critical that those with diverse backgrounds in engineering speak up: “Don’t be timid. Your background means you bring a different perspective that needs to be heard.” And when faced with new challenges, Zohreh, Katerina, and Alexa all highlighted the importance of asking questions. Alexa continued, “Ask questions. And then ask more questions. It’s accelerated my learning.” Katerina said, “Don’t give up. It’s going to be hard, but anything worth doing will be hard.” Zohreh echoed Katerina saying, “Don’t be afraid. It’s okay to step into an area you don’t know well. Step into that area and have the confidence in yourself that you can learn it.”

Building a team comprised of diverse perspectives enables PassiveLogic to build the ground-breaking, innovative technology stack that unlocks and democratizes the future of generative autonomy.

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