November 20, 2012Culture · Compute · Women in Tech · Recruiting

Facebook at the espnW Hack Day

Samantha Gruskin

On November 10th, I had the pleasure of joining a few other Facebook women at espnW’s Hack Day, a hackathon focused on making sports-related apps for women, by women. The event commemorated the anniversary of Title IX, landmark legislation that enabled women to participate in the previously male-dominated field of sports. The speakers celebrated the explosive growth in the number of female athletes since Title IX passed, drawing a parallel with the rising number of female software engineers over the past decade. Participants built some very cool apps that connected women, technology, and sports, acknowledging the importance of this trend—and the future potential for women in technology. It was great to see so many women (and men!) show up and work together, and for many, this was their first hackathon. We were excited to be a part of this event, as individuals and because Facebook loves opportunities to bring more women into technology.

As a female engineer, I am proud to be part of Facebook’s strong female engineering presence both in our company and our community. Facebook regularly participates in events that support women in the tech industry. Just to mention a few recent examples, Facebook attended the Grace Hopper conference and brought along 36 scholarship recipients, we mentored technical females from Women Who Code to do interview prep, and we hosted USA Today’s roundtable discussion for women venture capitalists.

Within Facebook, we have many programs that help women in the company feel connected. We frequently use Facebook Groups to organize events for women including lunches, meet-ups, speaker series, and mentoring circles. Facebook also holds an annual event for its employees called Tech Women’s Day, which brings all women in the company together for a day to bond, connect, and learn from each other’s experiences.

Many men at Facebook also participate in these efforts by attending and volunteering at events, and joining in conversations about recruiting and encouraging women in technology. In doing so, they’ve repeatedly demonstrated that they care about these efforts as well, and that bringing more women into technology is a goal we all should share.

While there is no Title IX equivalent to help grow the number of women software engineers, the efforts I have seen within Facebook and at events like these help us make progress toward that goal. We send our congratulations to the participants from espnW Hack Day, and look forward to seeing them continue to create great software—for women, for athletes, for everyone.

Prior to Facebook, I was often the only female software engineer on my team or in my office. Being the only one of my kind was something I just sort of accepted, although I always wished to work with more female engineers. I was pleasantly surprised to find so many of “my kind” from day one at Facebook. We have some of the most amazing, creative and intelligent female engineers in the industry. I am thankful to work with them all, and am looking forward to having more of us soon.

Samantha Gruskin is a developer support engineer at Facebook.

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