Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, forged a partnership with professional social network LinkedIn and the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology for the launch of a new resource to support women in the fields of engineering and computer science.
The need for such a resource is seen in the fact that today only 18 percent of students majoring in computer science are women. Thirty years ago, the figure was 35 percent.
On Feb. 6, Facebook, LinkedIn and the Anita Borg Institute launched the new global chapter of the Lean in Circles program, which allows women who are interested in pursuing careers in the two technical fields to make connections with each other for advice and support.
The new Lean In Computer Science and Engineering Chapter is specifically for women who are studying courses on computer science and engineering in universities from all over the world.
In a post on Sandberg's Facebook page, the Facebook COO said that careers in the fields of computer science and engineering are great for both men and women, as the jobs are flexible, high-impact, exciting and well paid.
However, Sandberg added that the participation of women in these growing fields is decreasing, which means that women are being left out of jobs. In turn, the ideas being formulated by women are not being developed and shared with the world.
The partnership with LinkedIn, which also functions as a hub for job searching and resume promotion, will allow employers to connect with women who are working in technical fields.
The Lean in Circles program started in 2013, creating groups composed entirely of women who regularly meet and provide support to one another. Over the two years since the program was launched, it has led to the formation of over 21,500 circles spanning across 97 countries and over 300 universities.
Sandberg wrote that the stereotypes of classes on computer science and engineering are self-reinforcing, as the classes "feel male" due to men dominating the population. Lean in Circles looks to break the stereotype to support women in their chosen fields.
For people to join the CS&E Chapter of Lean in Circles, all they will have to do is sign up for the program through its website. Users can join circles or launch new ones and have them included in the CS&E Chapter.
"The reason there aren't more women in computer science is because there aren't more women in computer science," said Sandberg in an interview, referring to the fact that less women are taking up courses in the fields.