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To Shrink the Gender Gap In Its Engineering Department, Etsy Teams Up With Hacker School

Make It So

While the vast majority of Etsy visitors are women (according to a 2010 company survey), its vice president of engineering, Marc Hedlund has acknowledged that the company’s own tech department is not as diverse as it should be. In fact, in a department of about 100, there are only 11 female engineers, none of whom are in management positions. But Hedlund isn’t going to let this slide, and in order to remedy the gender disparity, a new scholarship and sponsorship program through Hacker School has been announced to encourage more women to pursue engineering postions, not only at Etsy, but across the country. And that’s what we like to call “initiative”!

This June, at its Brooklyn headquarters, Etsy will host the summer 2012 session of Hacker School. For potential attendees, the company is offering 10 Etsy Hacker Grants, each of them $5,000. Hacker School, also based in New York City, offers three-month programs focused on computer programming throughout the year. Etsy is shooting for a goal of 20 women to be a part of the program, some of whom might even end up with an engineering job at the company!

Hedlund is well aware that a company like Etsy should be way better at finding smart, technically-inclined women to work for them. After all: women make up a huge portion of Etsy’s business — according to that survey we mentioned above, a whopping 97 percent of of the approximately 5,600 people who took the survey said they were women. For a little more insight into the number, 23 percent said they were sellers, 22 percent said they were shoppers, and 54 percent said they were both. Now, compare the numbers of women working as engineers, provided by Hedlund:

Last September, three out of 96 employees in Engineering and Operations at Etsy were women, and none of them were managers. Talking this over with others here, we thought that Etsy — which supports the businesses of hundreds of thousands of female entrepreneurs through our marketplace, which sells a majority of all items to women, and which already has many talented and amazing women working for the company — should be one of the single easiest Internet companies at which to correct this problem.

Now, just over six months later, there are 11 women in non-management positions, and Hedlund knows that’s not even close to enough. Hence, the Hacker School partnership, which is a great idea. It will take the form of a sort of unofficial “open house” at Etsy, where all 40 students will be treated to an inside look at the inner workings of Etsy (as well as lunch, known as Eatsy) and meet with current engineers.

Hedlund is hoping to find some help in spreading the word about this new partnership and the 10 available scholarships/sponsorships. Here’s where we’ll do our part:

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about careers in computer engineering and might even like to work at Etsy, visit the Hacker Grants page for more information on how to apply.

(“Smart Girls Rock” pendant available from Etsy seller Shimmer Creek Studio.)

(Etsy via Forbes)

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