50 high school and college-aged females toured the Pacific Northwest’s largest tech companies Tuesday.
It’s part of a 10-day, seven-city nationwide tour to promote female leadership in business and technology companies called “GenHERation”. Each city’s tour is comprised mainly of local students.
Tuesday the group toured Microsoft’s Redmond campus, Amazon, Zillow, Nordstrom, and Getty Images.
Just 5 percent of leadership positions in the technology industry are held by women, according to TechCrunch.
“When we visit companies like Microsoft, we can have their senior female leaders talk to our young women participants about what they need to climb up the ranks and hopefully inspire more young women to pursue careers and close that leadership gap,” said Katlyn Grasso, GenHERation’s Founder.
“We got up at like 5:30 in the morning to get here on time, just insane,” said Riley Vetto of Mercer Island. The 18-year-old plans to attend the University of Arizona in the fall and is interested in computer science.
Vetto said before coming to Microsoft, she heard stories of how some big companies lacked diversity and female leaders.
“Just a whole bunch of women on the panel, every single one of them have said, they’re either the only one on their team or were one of the only women in their class,” said Vetto.
Microsoft said 17 percent of its leadership roles are held by women. That includes Stephanie Ferguson, who is the general manager of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise Marketing.
“Diverse teams come at problems from different angles,” she said. “They approach things with asking different questions and you end up with more creativity and more innovation.”
Ferguson said Microsoft is involved in programs like TEALS and Girls Who Code to increase diversity.
Vetto said she isn’t deterred by the tech industry’s lack of female workers and leaders.
“It makes me want to prove myself even more that I can do it even though I’m not a male in a male-dominated area,” she said. “If anything, it’s pushed me towards me more instead of turning me away from it.”