Sheryl Sandberg Launches Lean In Circles to Boost Women In CS and Engineering
Number of women in tech has been declining for past few decades. In 1985, around 35% of women were CS majors, compared to 18% today. Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg is now working to fix this gender problem in tech.
Sandberg is launching a new mentorship program called “CS&E Chapter” under her more broad-based Lean In project through which she plans to not only encourage women to join computer science and engineering fields, but also support women who are already involved in these fields.
Lean In’s CS&E Chapter is a peer mentorship program where women can come and get advice and support from other women who are working in companies like Facebook. Sandberg believes that women will also get career advices and guidance from their peers.
Women having any difficulties in getting an engineering degree or a job may ask someone in the CS&E Circle who has been through it. On the other hand, those are already working in a role in tech can get guidance on navigating issues like sexual harassment, misogyny, wage disparity, and attaining leadership positions.
These circles are not just for mentorship and advices for women. Sandberg writes: “At the University of Tennessee, a Circle of women engineers are not just supporting each other, but also raising funds to send women to technical conferences around the US.”
People are already aware of the problems women face in tech. Diversity reports published by top tech firms last year showed dismal results for women. Pinterest had 40 percent females, Facebook had 31 percent, and Google and Twitter both had 30 percent females. eBay topped the list having 42 percent female employees.
The causes behind women’s lack of interest in tech are many. They don’t get enough mentorship and guidance at young age which could motivate them to take up coding and other engineering disciplines. Those who make it up to joining a tech firm are driven away by incidents like harassment.
So Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg is launching this initiative in hopes of solving these problems. She believes women can seek help from others by asking them on Lean In. Sandberg has been working on such support programs for women in the past. She is also involved in another similar mentorship program WEST which was launched by Facebook, Box, and Pinterest.
She is not alone in Lean In project. The program is supported by Anita Borg Institute, Linked In, Jeff Weiner, Reid Garrett Hoffman and Telle Whitney. It might not eliminate inequality, but it will help motivate women to join exciting careers in computer science and engineering.
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