Since the 1990s, female representation in tech occupations has declined, according to the United States Census Bureau. Which is why some of the industry’s biggest names — Facebook, Pinterest and Box — have kicked off a pilot program to mentor women in tech.
WEST, or Women Entering and Staying in Tech, will tap women from the aforementioned companies to serve as one-on-one mentors for females — whether they’re currently interns starting their professional career or are in midlevel positions and are looking to grow or expand their employment opportunities, according to their website. The program will kickoff in early 2015 and is open to San Francisco Bay area women. It is not yet clear how many applicants WEST plans to accept.
“Mentorship can be incredibly influential in a woman’s career, and we’re excited to be tackling this challenge together,” Facebook says in a statement. “We believe that by working together and providing more direct support, advocacy, and space for community development, we can create an impactful, scalable, one-on-one mentorship program to help women build and grow meaningful careers in tech.”
Several companies, including Facebook and Pinterest, came under fire earlier this year after data released revealed many of the companies had very few women in the workplace. In fact, Facebook admitted that only 31 percent of its employes are female while Pinterest revealed that 40 percent of its workforce is female. Boil that statistic down to technical employees and a mere 15 percent of Facebook’s tech team are women and 21 percent of Pinterest’s tech are female.
That’s a far cry from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s message to empower women, but fortunately, her company along with a few others in the Silicon Valley are taking the first steps to correcting the problem.