This post was co-authored with Dominik Sauter.
The cats out of the bag...
Google's big news about the diversity of their workforce is sending shockwaves through corporate and nonprofit America this week in a bold announcement by Google's SVP of People Operations Laszlo Bock who shared on PBS that 17 percent of tech jobs at Google are filled by women and under 3 percent by minorities.
In an industry where the competition is showing similar lack of diversity , Google made a bold move to share the sobering news at a time when most tech companies are not divulging such intel (... we hear Facebook plans to do the same). Bock shares that Google is openly trying to right a wrong and decrease social and gender bias that's rampant in Silicon Valley and in many STEM industries.
A few weeks ago, we had the opportunity to speak at the Empowered Women's Network event as Cisco Live! The event had doubled in size from last year and top C-suite leaders were there in force. Cisco brought us to share a little secret, that has big potential for girls in STEM. Million Women Mentors, an idea started 18 months ago, is picking up speed to secure one million men and women to mentor girls and young women in STEM skills. Through five suggested pathways and a minimum 20-hour commitment, the the end goal is ultimately achieving more gender equality and diversity in dynamic STEM careers. 58,000 have already pledged to mentor.
So many of companies in attendance shared with us a very similar story to Google's and are looking for concrete action to increase their female participation and hiring of minorities through internships, apprenticeships, university partnerships, and mentoring around STEM skills.
Our friend Chad Womack of UNCF shared the discussions between University Presidents of Historically Black Colleges (HBCU's) who have met with Silicon Valley leaders in the past few months to dialogue around hiring more from HBCU's and curriculum enhancements needed for the schools to match Silicon Valley's hiring needs.
Retention is "Queen", but we also need to look at the K-J pipeline (kindergarden through jobs) For example, we know from new research shared by My College Options that out of 368,000 high school girls interested in pursuing STEM careers (15 percent of girls surveyed), only 4 percent were encouraged to do so by a mentor.
Silicon Valley and U.S. companies represent the best of the best to encourage the other 96% of these girls through taking a stand for mentoring and bringing diverse mentors to the table. Google's and our Country's future workforce of 2016 and 2020 need you today. Although achieving gender equality can't be done overnight, what we can do is dedicate ourselves to changing the norms and stereotypes that inhibit women and minorities from tapping into their true potential and securing lucrative careers.
Follow Julie Kantor on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JulieKantorSTEM