Box, Facebook, Pinterest launch 'WEST' mentorship program for women in tech

Mentors will be tapped to advise women in skilled technical roles, such as engineering, product management, operations, design, and web development.

Box, Facebook and Pinterest have banded together to launch a new pilot mentorship program dubbed WEST: Women Entering and Saying in Technology.

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Unveiled on Wednesday amid the Grace Hopper Conference to celebrate women in computing, the trio of Silicon Valley wunderkinds are targeting women who are in the early to middle phases of their tech careers.

Specifically, mentors will be tapped to advise women in skilled technical roles, such as engineering, product management, operations, design, and web development.

The primary goals for WEST start with providing more direct support, advocacy and community development.

Starting with participants situated in the tech-centric Bay Area, WEST will match budding professionals with mentees, encouraging them to meet individually and as a group, in-person and online, over the course of a year.

The debut of the program follows a period of heavy backlash in Silicon Valley over the widening gender gap in IT -- and even just general employment throughout entire companies.

Facebook cited in a blog post on Wednesday that "while the number of open jobs in CS is expected to explode to 1.4 million in 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau found that women’s representation in tech occupations has actually been on the decline since the 1990s."

Although the debate has reached a boiling point, there has been little response or change seen beyond the publishing of a few diversity reports by the likes of Twitter , Microsoft , Apple and eBay, among others.

Facebook shared its own demographics back in June, demonstrating the world's largest social network of more than a billion users worldwide is run by mostly white and Asian men.

Pinterest followed up with its own figures in July, showing slightly more gender balance company-wide, but not proving to be much better when broken down by department.

Box has not published a gender or diversity report yet.

The first phase for the WEST program won't launch until 2015. The application window for prospective mentees will be opening soon.

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