Facebook and LinkedIn join forces to support women in tech

Facebook and LinkedIn are hoping to encourage more women into technology, with new mentoring and support programs for female engineering and computer science students.

The scheme, announced by Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, and LinkedIn CEO, Jeffrey Weiner, is designed to fill more positions in Silicon Valley with female employees, addressing the gender imbalance in technology and surrounding industries.

Telle Whitney, president and CEO of Anita Borg Institute a partner in the scheme said: "Think about it. If everybody who creates a product looks the same, you know the results won't be nearly as interesting. We want for the sake of our future to have women involved in all the projects that will change our lives."

For Facebook, 15 per cent of employees in tech jobs, and 31 per cent of employees across the company, are women, while 39 per cent of LinkedIn employees are female, as well as 17 per cent in technology roles.

"A lot of our customers, at least half, sometimes more, are women," added Sandberg. "We build a product that gives people a voice. We know we can't build a product for the world unless our teams reflect the diversity of the people who use the product."

The number of women enrolled in computer science programs in the US amounts to just 17 per cent of students, having shrunk from a high of 35 per cent in 1985.

Lea Coligado, a computer science student from Stanford University, added: "There's so few of us, so we definitely stick together. I think there's a stereotype. It's understated and people don't want to say it out loud, but it's there the idea that women are just not very good at computer science and some use that to justify why our numbers are so low. It's flabbergasting."

Caroline Preece

Caroline has been writing about technology for more than a decade, switching between consumer smart home news and reviews and in-depth B2B industry coverage. In addition to her work for IT Pro and Cloud Pro, she has contributed to a number of titles including Expert Reviews, TechRadar, The Week and many more. She is currently the smart home editor across Future Publishing's homes titles.

You can get in touch with Caroline via email at caroline.preece@futurenet.com.