Stanford student starts 'Women of Silicon Valley' blog

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- By some accounts, more than three quarters of the engineers at Silicon Valley tech companies are men; that's something the industry's working to change. But how do you attract women to such a male-dominated field? A young Stanford student may have the answer.

Stanford junior Lea Coligado started a blog called Women of Silicon Valley. She posted a message on YouTube and she started what might just be a phenomenon. "Women of Silicon Valley" is based on another blog called "Humans of New York".

"You have like these really impactful snapshots along with a quote," explained Coligado.

But Coligado's humans are a rare breed -- women who work in tech.

"I feel like these women deserve more recognition," said Coligado. "And almost all of them have been extremely receptive to being featured."

After word spread, the blog's gone from 2,000 followers to over 20,000. It's had shout-outs from Chelsea Clinton and Melinda Gates.

"I was like hyperventilating when it happened because they're huge role models for me," said Lea.

And role models are what Coligado wants to show, not just to her fellow computer science majors, but to girls who are much younger.

There are sixth and seventh graders from KIPP Bayview Academy who just finished a program on tech literacy. On their final day, there was a technology career fair that included speeches by female executives.

"After this experience, it made me think about like it would be a good career for me," said sixth grader Monet Harris.

Middle school may seem a bit early to have a career fair, but organizers say it's actually not. Whether or not they realize it, this is the time when kids are making decisions about themselves that could affect the rest of their lives.

"The middle school age is sixth, seventh and eighth, is when students begin to self-identify as being good at things... and begin to self-select out of things that they perceive that they may not be good at," said EverFi Chief Operating Officer Tammy Wincup.

And they notice who else seems to be good at those things.

ABC7 News asked Neustar president and CEO Lisa Hook if it was important to have a role model for girls that look like them. She replied, "Absolutely. I think if you can see yourself in that place, you can imagine how to get there."

Coligado is just getting started. She'd love to interview Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and of course, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg.

"For women in tech especially, she's like a God and 'Lean In' is like the Bible for me," said Coligado.

And though the blog was an experiment, it's safe to say it worked.

"Seeing how well it's being received, my plan is to just continue it -- even after I graduate," said Coligado.
Copyright © 2020 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.