There’s no inspiration like sunny skies and semiconductor chips. At least not for the brilliant women who live and work in the heart of Silicon Valley.
We sat down with some women who are helping shape the world’s most beloved tech products and services, while maintaining their sense of personal style in a male-dominated industry. They share their inspirations, and how their taste is shaped by the unique culture of their industry.
Mulberry meets Cynthia Maxwell, former Mobile Engineering Manager, Pinterest.
By Mariana Lin
Where did you live before coming to California?
I grew up in Holland, Michigan. Herman Miller had its Design Yard there, so growing up I was very influenced by the midcentury modern aesthetic, which was everywhere. It really impacted the sense of style and culture.
What brought you to Silicon Valley?
I came to Stanford for my masters in mechanical engineering, and fell in love with the Bay Area. I worked for a while for NASA nearby, working on simulations and life science experiments. Then I went to Berkeley for a PhD in computer science.
You also used to DJ, and you have quite an art collection.
I used to DJ at Burning Man and breaks/electro nights around San Francisco. I have my own turntables and still mix with vinyl, which is rare these days. My favorite album is The Low End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest. It’s timeless, and every track is great. I used to read a ton of design blogs, and through that, I got into art. When I moved into my first nice apartment, I wanted to own some from people I like. There are some artists I kick myself for not buying long ago. I love Banksy, Jeremy Fish, Kristian Olson, Jeff Soto.
How do you adapt your style to the workplace as a female engineer?
Engineering is a very male-dominated field. But I have always ignored the engineering dress code and dressed as fabulously as I wanted to at work. I am a woman and I like to celebrate that. I have never been shy about busting out four inch heels while coding. It’s fun!
Where are your favourite places to eat in the Bay Area?
Flea Street Cafe has the best blackberry pie in the summer. Portola Kitchen has a gluten free selection, and their tap wine selection is also very nice.
What inspires you about Silicon Valley?
When I arrived in California I felt a huge weight lifted. California is filled with people of all beliefs and they are not afraid to express themselves. It’s a great feeling knowing you can really be free here.