Path Forward is trying to fix the gender gap in Silicon Valley
It’s no secret that gender statistics in the tech world aren’t very encouraging—in the private sector, women hold just 33.5 percent of the jobs. And while sexism and the lack of women and girls being pushed into STEM share some of the blame for this number, so do women who leave the industry to raise children.
But what happens when these mothers want to reenter the workforce and restake their claim in Silicon Valley?
One nonprofit, Path Forward, understands how difficult that journey can be and wants to help. The organization focuses on helping companies tap into the vast pool of professionals who have taken more than two years away from work for care-giving, Inc. describes. One way that Path Forward does this is through“ returnships,” which provide internships to help participants rebuild skill sets as well as attend development sessions and networking events.
Shashi Dokani, a mother of two, was recruited by PayPal for a Path Forward internship. After completing the 20-week program, she was offered a full-time position at the company, along with nine others interns.
Dokani admitted that prior to the program, applying for jobs was disheartening. “People were very skeptical about the break I took. They didn’t have confidence in me,” Dokani told Inc.
But her attitude changed once the program was done. “I know how nervous I was when I joined the program and how confident I felt after 20 weeks,” she said.
Path Forward isn’t stopping with Pay Pal.
The nonprofit announced this week that starting in October, it will partner with other companies including CloudFlare, Instacart, GoDaddy, Zendesk, Demandbase, and Coursera.
“Managers are very nervous about hiring anyone who has a gap in their résumé of more than a few months,” Tami Forman, Path Forward’s executive director, told Inc. Participants like Dokani, and other women who complete these programs, leave with the confidence that they can succeed, which is incredibly important in acclimating back to work, Forman added.
“For women, the program offers a real confidence boost and puts them in a position to negotiate for or find a position when the program ends,” Forman says. “It offers them a true ‘on-ramp’–a period of time where they can re- acclimate to the workforce and restart their professional life.”