Empowering Women in Tech at LinkedIn to Transform Their Careers

June 10, 2015

Two of the core values guiding everything we do at LinkedIn are integrity and collaboration.To live our values fully, we believe it’s critical to have our employees represent as diverse a range of backgrounds and viewpoints as our members do. This balance of perspectives helps us achieve our goal of making the world’s professionals more productive and successful, and ultimately creating economic opportunity.

However in the technology industry today, and even at LinkedIn, we continue to fall short in achieving gender balance among software engineers and other technical roles. To gain deeper insight into gender imbalance in the workplace we recently analyzed millions of LinkedIn member profiles and compared female representation across a dozen industry groups. This data shows a significant gap persists across industries and in technology less than a third of tech industry workers are women, and only one in five of its leaders are women.

Late last year, I took up the challenge of spearheading our Women in Tech (WIT) efforts with a goal of tackling this imbalance head-on. Our mission is to empower women in tech roles at LinkedIn to transform themselves, their careers and the company. We’re also committed to attracting and retaining the best women to join our team at LinkedIn, and becoming role models for the next generation of technical talent.

In an attempt to ensure our initiative achieves long-lasting and meaningful impact, we have selected a leadership team of accomplished, respected and talented female tech execs at LinkedIn who have hands-on ownership and responsibility for its success. To aid continuity and long-lasting commitment, our leads are being measured on WIT impact as part of their day jobs - not as volunteers. Each of us has been working in the tech trenches our whole careers - living and breathing the effects of the gender imbalance in our workplaces. In addition, our executive sponsor for WIT is Kevin Scott, the SVP of engineering and operations at LinkedIn.

WIT at LinkedIn is focused on four specific areas: empowering career transformation for women at LinkedIn; attracting the best female talent to LinkedIn; ensuring our culture is always inclusive and engaging; and inspiring the next generation of tech women.

The momentum we’re seeing from WIT initiatives so far is encouraging. Our 2015 workforce diversity report showed gains on women’s representation in technical roles (1%) and leadership (5%). We’ve helped connect dozens of female industry leaders in the U.S. and India through mixers and WomenConnect networking dinners. We’re starting long-term efforts to get more girls into STEM, and we’re already seeing attitudes and awareness improvements among our colleagues. Little things like gender-neutral language in meetings and in tech documentation add up when applied with discipline and rigor across companies and industries.

As Director of Growth and one of the most senior female engineers at LinkedIn, taking on this additional role was not easy. As a working mother of two who is also heading up a global team of 70+ people working to drive our member growth, I wasn’t sure how to fit in this new responsibility. Plus, as a woman who has worked her way up through the ranks of tech companies over the past 20 years, my strategy was always to succeed by the merits of my hard work and strong relationships with my male and female colleagues. While speaking up on potentially sensitive subjects was not my natural way, I also didn’t want to pass up this chance to make meaningful change to benefit the next generation of female tech stars.

The problem of gender disparity in technology was not created overnight, and the gap won’t be closed in a year or two. But we’re confident that long-term change initiatives like WIT will make our industry a more hospitable and inclusive career option for people of every background.