Facebook, Pinterest and Box have teamed up to announce a one-on-one mentorship scheme to help women break into the technical industry.
With the pilot scheme due to begin in early 2015, the aptly-named Women Entering and Staying in Tech (WEST) will offer help to early through mid-career women who are in roles such as Engineering, Operations, Product, Design, and Web Development. Women who sign up will be linked with a female employee in a technical role from either Facebook, Pinterest or Box, who will serve as a mentor.
The pilot scheme will run for a year and will involve online, group and personal interactions. It will be open specifically to women from the San Francisco Bay Area of Northern California, with plans to expand should it be successful.
The southern part of the Bay Area is of course known colloquially as Silicon Valley – the place in which tech giants Google, Facebook, Apple, Cisco and many others are based.
The scheme’s website states that ‘Women make tech better. But numbers show there’s a lot of work to do. … It is our hope that this program will help more women enter and flourish in these increasingly important and necessary technical roles.’
As Mashable notes, less than one third (31%) of Facebook’s employees are women, while Pinterest’s numbers stand at 40%.
When it comes to the companies’ technical employees, just 15% are women at Facebook and 21% at Pinterest. Presumably it was these figures which prompted the companies to take action.
‘By bringing experienced women from top technology companies across the industry together, we hope to build and maintain a new kind of mentorship program informed by the kind of work women are doing day-to-day and the most exciting opportunities becoming available in tech,’ Facebook said via a statement.
‘Mentorship can be incredibly influential in a woman’s career, and we’re excited to be tackling this challenge together.’
Positive recognition that more women are needed in a very male-dominated industry is a welcome announcement. Let’s hope that WEST will turn out for the best.
Image: corinnepw on Flickrcc