Maybe it was the scene in “The Social Network” when Mark Zuckerberg starts “Facemash” to take revenge on an ex-lover. Or maybe it's showing up to work to find the offices almost completely filled by young, white men. But Facebook, in an initiative with other tech companies, has launched a new joint effort to promote gender diversity in tech.
Dubbed Women Entering and Staying in Tech, or WEST for short, the program aims to put women who are in the early to midstages of their technology careers in one-on-one mentorship roles with high-ranking women from Facebook, Pinterest and Box, a cloud-computing company based in Los Altos, California. The pilot program, which is scheduled to begin in early 2015, is open to women from the San Francisco Bay area in technical positions including engineering, operations, product, design and Web development. The organizers said the program could expand later to more career levels and geographic regions.
The meetups will occur both in-person and online over the course of a year. In addition to one-on-one mentoring, there will also be opportunities for group interactions.
One potential upside of launching a pilot program next year is that Silicon Valley will actually have time to hire some of the women it hopes to mentor. Facebook, according to a diversity report released in June, said that 69 percent of its 7,185 employees are male, with 85 percent of its tech workers male. Pinterest fared better, with females making up 40 percent of its total staff. Pinterest engineer Tracy Chou first sparked the conversation about gender diversity in the technology industry with a blog post titled, “Where Are The Numbers?”