A new mentoring program called WEST has been launched by Facebook, Pinterest and Box. Its goal is to provide one on one guidance for women in the beginning of their tech careers, and hopefully foster greater involvement from women in the industry, for the future.
Some of the biggest names in technology are women, such as Google X head of display research Mary Lou Jepsen, VP of social evangelism at IBM Sandy Carter, or head chair at Xerox Ursula Burns. But the numbers of women versus men in the industry still maintain an alarming gap, just as in the science industry.
WEST is an attempt to close that gap by encouraging more women to remain directly involved in technology, without jumping ship to other ventures (such as business) once the beginning of their career has passed.
Taking female mentors working for Box, Facebook and Pinterest, one on one mentoring will begin with classes of women who have entered the beginning or middle phases of their careers. They will help to guide these women into the next stage of their careers, so they understand the best moves for their eventual goals. With the tech industry being so competitive, it can be difficult to know what steps to take without someone around who has already taken them.
Right now, the program (opening in 2015) will be a small one operating in the Bay Area. Over time, and with success, they hope to slowly expand the mentoring program to different regions around the world. In the meantime, any women in the beginning to mid point of their careers, who live in the Bay Area and work in Engineering, Operations, Product, Design, and Web Development, are welcome to apply for a mentoring spot.
What is so great about this project is that women who have been directly affected by sexism and gender inequality in the tech industry are involved. Sheryl Sandberg, who is Facebook’s COO, is directly tied to the project, for example. She has spoken before about how difficult it can be in the industry for a woman to gain footing and climb the ladder, thanks to a clear and present bias against females in the workforce that is still disgustingly prevalent.
It may be a bit condescending to have to open a program like this. But that is the world we live in, and it will hopefully be valuable. Besides, anyone can use a bit of mentoring for their career.