A recent announcement by Facebook and LinkedIn that the two entities are joining forces to boost the dwindling numbers of women studying technology and working in the field is certainly worth watching.
Short on a lot of details about the collaboration, the announcement still got an amazing amount of press because of the two parties involved — led, in part, by Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.
Sandberg has been a prominent advocate for women in the workplace, ever since her 2011 book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead came out. (Here is one of many pieces we’ve posted about her book and her premise that women need help fighting the barriers — some within themselves — that keep them from achieving leadership positions. Here is one other, primarily about her book and the “Lean In” support circles it aimed to spark in workplaces nationwide.)
As the first post quotes her from her book:
“We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in. [The result is that] men still run the world.”
Whether Sandberg and the people she’s working with think this inability to effect their own progress is a primary reason behind women’s dwindling numbers in technology studies and jobs isn’t real clear. Nor is it clear how much money each company is committing to this effort, or just how it will function. (The announcement simply says Sandberg and LinkedIn CEO Jeffrey Weiner will be “launching mentoring and support programs at colleges to get more women involved in studying technology in general, but also as future employees for their companies.”)
What is clear, though, is the fact that the talent pool is shrinking. According to the announcement, the percentage of people enrolled in undergraduate computer-science programs who are women peaked at 35 percent in 1985 and is now down to about 17 percent.
Clearly, something needs to be done. Will be interesting to see just what this initiative is and what it can do.Twitter It!