Facebook’s Mike Schroepfer, Jocelyn Goldfein Discuss Challenges Of Finding Female Engineers

By David Cohen 

Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer and Director of Engineering Jocelyn Goldfein discussed the social network’s efforts to recruit female engineers and the challenges involved while speaking at the she++ conference at Stanford University this weekend.

According to TechCrunch, Schroepfer said at the event:

The numbers are a challenge. There are just fewer women graduating and fewer women in the industry. So I think there’s just a smaller pool of people and I think, because of that, if Facebook had gender parity, then everyone else in the industry wouldn’t, just statistically. So our first problem is not a Facebook problem, it’s an industry problem.

A lot of people take CS106A, the intro to computer science class, and it’s a phenomenal class, I think it’s the largest enrollment they’ve ever had this year. But what you see happen is people take the class and then they move on to other things. They don’t actually end up majoring in computer science or being a professional in engineering. A lot of what we’re trying to do is just show up to the class and show people what it’s like to do this in the real world.

And Goldfein added:

When you look at the numbers of CS majors that are graduating — where are we going to get more from? The fact that women are such a small percentage of CS majors when they’re such a large percentage of undergraduates is kind of the missing link. And it’s really obvious when you think about it.

Facebook has focused very hard on claiming our disproportionate share of the women that are out there, just like we want our disproportionate share of the people with iPhone experience, and we want our disproportionate share of the people with Kernel experience. There are a set of scarce, valuable, talent pools in software, and we’re out to get more than our share. But that’s not a winning approach for the whole industry. Everybody can’t do that.

We put a lot of energy into trying to find more women, because fundamentally for us, it’s an applicant pool problem. When women interview with us, we want to hire them, and they want to work for us. Those numbers are great. The trouble is, there are just very few women we can find in the candidate pool.

Readers: Are you surprised more women don’t pursue careers in computer science or engineering?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.