The tech industry still has a long way to go in terms of gender diversity, but companies are trying to fix that.
On Wednesday Facebook, Box, and Pinterest announced they have teamed up to develop a new mentorship program called WEST — Women Entering and Staying in Tech.
Announced at the annual Grace Hopper Conference in Phoenix, Ariz., which celebrates women in computing, WEST will provide one-on-one mentorship, pairing up women who hold technical positions at Facebook, Box, and Pinterest with women who have recently graduated from college or are early in their careers in technology.
WEST plans to kick off its pilot program early next year, featuring women in early- to mid-level careers in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The women will meet one-to-one with mentors and in groups, in person and online, for a year. The pilot program will focus on women performing engineering, operations, product, design, and web development jobs.
“Having a mentor who was a sounding board and role model has been key in helping me navigate my career choices and make decisions,” Box’s senior director of platform engineering Heidi Williams wrote on Box’s blog Wednesday.
“Without those words of support and encouragement from my mentor, I likely would have shied away from that opportunity and missed out on the best years of my career in tech. Now, as a senior engineering leader, I am inspired to give back and mentor the next generation of young women in tech as they navigate their career paths.”
“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’s Tiffany Chesnosky, Delfina Eberly, Jenn Lesser Henley, Sambavi Muthukrishnan, and Rachel Peterson said in a post.
Last year, a Pinterest software engineer and tech lead named Tracy Chou wrote a Medium post called “Where Are The Numbers?” In it, Chou called on the tech industry to disclose its diversity numbers.
Both Pinterest and Facebook revealed their diversity numbers earlier this year, and neither company did remarkably well in terms of gender and racial diversity. Both companies acknowledged the racial and gender gaps within their company, and vowed to take action to fix them.
“While we’ve made some progress in diversifying gender at the company, we haven’t done as well in representing different ethnicities, and we’re focused on getting better,” Chou said on Pinterest’s blog.
“As these numbers show, we have more work to do — a lot more,” Facebook’s global head of diversity Maxine Williams said.