LinkedIn is launching a new partnership designed to get more women into the technology industry.
The professional social networking site announced this week that it is joining forces with MentorNet, a national non-profit that provides science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students with access to mentoring experiences by connecting them with professionals in those fields. In MentorNet's online social networking platform, students (called protégés) can build relationships with mentors, connecting across generational, gender, racial, cultural and socio-economic boundaries.
With the new partnership, MentorNet can leverage LinkedIn job postings in order to fill a critical need for mentors, as the supply of protégés tends to heavily outweigh that of available mentors. Additionally, since the LinkedIn platform enables members to "signal" their interest in doing skill-based volunteering, it will provide MentorNet with the ability to leverage LinkedIn's growing network of 277 million professionals. MentorNet will be able to identify LinkedIn members who might be interested in becoming a mentor and match their subject matter expertise with the interests of a willing protégé. [Americans Reveal Who They'd Rather Work For: Men or Women]
"We believe strongly that providing the right support in the form of role models could yield positive results in terms of getting more women in STEM positions, and it could also be an effective measure in balancing out the gender gap," Meg Garlinghouse, head of LinkedIn for Good, which is designed to connect members and employees with opportunities for social impact, wrote on the company's blog.
The partnership with MentorNet also includes a grant to help update that site's technology platform, which will enable MentorNet to scale its impact.
LinkedIn research shows that the technology industry lags in having a workforce with balanced numbers of men and women with technical backgrounds. Specifically, women represent just 30 percent of the entire workforce within the technology industry; for software engineering roles within the technology industry, women hold only 15 percent of positions.
Garlinghouse said the partnership couldn't come at a more critical time, especially within the United States, as female representation among U.S. computer science and software engineering degree holders has declined over the past 30 years.
"These are significant, fundamental challenges, and no single action by one company, entity or even group of companies and entities is going to address all of them," she wrote. "However, we've identified an area where we believe we can have significant impact, as it relates to one of our core areas of focus: the power of professional ties and the sharing of knowledge."
Originally published on Business News Daily.