Go WEST, young women: Facebook, Box and Pinterest teamed up to form pilot mentorship program Women Entering and Staying in Tech, aiming at maintaining and furthering interest by women in tech careers, the three companies announced at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Phoenix Wednesday.
The WEST program is aimed at providing one-on-one career guidance and mentoring to women who recently graduated college or are in the early stages of their tech careers.
Facebook offered more details in a post on its engineering blog:
Companies across the industry are working hard to close the gender gap in computer science, both in educational pipelines and in the current workforce — but we’re just getting started. The fact remains that while the number of open jobs in CS is expected to explode to 1.4 million in 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau found that women’s representation in tech occupations has actually been on the decline since the 1990s. Tech is looking for new ways to get women interested in CS and to stay in technical roles as they advance through their careers.
Today, Box, Facebook and Pinterest are announcing that we have come together to create WEST (Women Entering and Staying in Tech), a one-on-one mentorship program to help more women enter and flourish in these increasingly important technical roles. 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.
Mentees for the 2015 pilot of the WEST program will be early- to mid-career women in the Bay area, from those beginning their careers as interns to mid-career women looking to further their growth or take the next step. The pilot will focus on women in engineering, operations, product, design and Web-development roles.
Women in technical roles from Box, Facebook and Pinterest will serve as one-on-one mentors to this class of women and meet with mentees individually and as a group, in-person and online, over the course of a year.
Mentorship can be incredibly influential in a woman’s career, and we’re excited to be tackling this challenge together. 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.
If you’d like to get involved and be notified when applications for the 2015, please visit westmentors.org.
And Box senior director of platform engineering Heidi Williams discussed her experiences in a blog post:
Many times during my career in technology, I’ve questioned what I was doing, what my goals were or which direction I wanted to go next. Having a mentor who was a sounding board and role model has been key in helping me navigate my career choices and make decisions. I still remember when my mentor encouraged me to take a risky new role that would broaden my experience and skill set into the business side of things. Ultimately, it was a great learning experience that opened a ton of interesting career opportunities for me and eventually led me to Box! 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.
Women in tech: Will you check out WEST?