Square has created a publication that’s not centered around payments, transactions, or commerce, but rather on female engineers. The company wants it to be a guide for other businesses that have an interest in supporting a diverse workforce. But recognizing that it doesn’t have all the answers, Square has open-sourced the handbook by hosting it in a GitHub repository for not only anyone to read, but also to contribute their own thoughts.
Called the “WomEng Handbook,” it features sections on how to create an buddy program for newly hired engineers, organizing internal events such as monthly lunches or roundtables, attending conferences, and more. Square said that because of the success it has seen internally with supporting women engineers, it felt that this contribution may benefit others in the technology space.
At a glance, the handbook appears pretty sparse, but Square obviously can’t answer all the questions and is freely encouraging engineers to contribute their own ideas. Companies can spin off their own version of the WomEng Handbook or share their contributions with Square to incorporate into a master version.
“We want to use our learnings to make it easier for other organizations to get started, because building a strong, supportive community is important to recruit and retain women in the tech industry,” said the publication’s author, Square software engineer Alyssa Pohahau. It was during a meeting Square had with Yelp when she realized that the issues Pohahau had were not isolated to just Square, but “relevant to any organization wanting to start or expand a women in engineering group.”
If you’re looking for the definitive guide on how to empower women in engineering, then this book won’t immediately have all the answers. By being on GitHub, Square wants it to be crowdsourced — and what better way to reach engineers than by hosting it on one of the industry’s popular services?
The book is organized into four main areas: introducing new hires to the group and ensuring that they feel welcome; growing the community internally; expanding the network beyond your company; and creating a presence at conferences.
And although this guide is aimed at female engineers, Pohahau said that it could also be used with other groups inside an organization. She believes that no handbook of this nature currently exists.
While there are efforts to encourage more women to join the engineering ranks, that’s only one step. Companies need to have the right support in place so that its employees feel not only welcome, but can also be productive and make an impact. The “WomEng Handbook” is one such initiative. However, the details in it are rather light; hopefully it gains some adoption so that it can be fleshed out with more information that engineers typically want.
Square hasn’t been shy about its efforts to establish a diverse engineering team and support women in the industry. The company has two Code Camps aimed at female high school and college students interested in being developers, programmers, and engineers, and who have a desire to see what life is like inside a tech company. As part of these programs, they not only get to meet the people inside Square, but engineers at several other tech firms, such as Yelp, Twitter, and Uber.
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