“You can’t hotfix a bridge”: Christina Allen on the confidence you gain from building
Christina Allen is a builder.
She moved to Silicon Valley in the 1980s. Before it was a gold rush. Before everyone knew what “VCs” were. Before there was the bloodlust of the IPO.
Back then “computer science” wasn’t so much the major that got you here as it was a mix of mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, architects and people who had to build physical things that worked. “You can’t hotfix a bridge,” she says. “‘Oh, shoot! 20% of the people fell off the bridge, I guess we patch it.’”
She was never someone unafraid to speak her mind-- in the Valley back at her days at Xerox PARC, in the Valley during her days at LinkedIn, or even growing up as one of three girls. And a lot of confidence comes from building. Building stuff that is tangible and has to work.
Her father expected Allen and her sisters to be able to work on the house, to fix things, to build.
“I was raised in a family that valued results,” she says.
In this episode of “A Uterus Is a Feature not a Bug” Allen and I talk about the confidence that comes with building, and how valuable that is for women. It’s hard to doubt yourself when you see something that works that you built. It’s hard for someone else to take credit. It’s hard for you to deny what you just accomplished. She not only lived it-- she’s seen it in her daughter, who studied mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon and builds robots.
We also talk about the role that women played in the early days of the Valley, how they got muscled out, and the types of roles that women are “allowed” to come back and reclaim. We also talk also about divorce, raising teenage girls, and why Allen recently left the Valley for New York.