Closing the gap for women in tech: why mentorship matters

In this first blog in our mentoring women in technology series, learn about how you can find a mentor in technology and make the most of the relationship, the difference between sponsorship, mentorship, and coaching, and how to build mentor and mentee relationships.

Women and other underrepresented groups in tech have a lot of ground to make up. As of 2023, only 29% of technologists and 25.5% of senior-level personnel identified as women or non-binary. A peek inside AnitaB.org’s TechEES report shows only 63.5% of all women and non-binary technologists report a sense of belonging at work, with Black respondents reporting a particularly low sense of belonging. Meanwhile, a study by the Center for Talent Innovation found that 71% of leaders are likely to pick proteges of the same race and gender.

To change this picture, these professionals need to support each other to rise together. At Intuit, we encourage our employees to form connections with role models and mentors for career guidance, skills development, and networking. Both structured programs and less formal relationships can play a vital role in helping each individual achieve their full potential. In fact, AnitaB.org has found that companies offering a program like Intuit’s Tech Women @Intuit (TWI) Mentorship Program have 4.7X more senior Black women technologists and 7.8X more Black, Latinx, Native American, and Pacific Islander women in technology executive roles. 

As Crystal Robinson-Pipersburgh, group manager for data engineering at Intuit, says, “You come in thinking that your own knowledge and experience is what’s going to take you to that next level or that next place that you want to be. That’s not the way it works. You do need to network. You do need to have mentors.” 

Getting advice and perspective for every aspect of a technology career 

“Building relationships, networking, and securing a mentor can push you into the right direction, whether it’s engineering skills, soft skills, or just having someone to listen to your aspirations and say, ‘I know a person who does that, let me connect you with her,’” says Justyna Yung, analytics leader at Intuit. 

Bridget Kimball, former vice president of technology at Intuit, emphasizes the candid nature of the relationship as a key part of its value. “It’s a safe environment for someone to give you feedback. They’re invested in helping you be better at whatever it is that you’re going after, and being a sounding board to help you think about what you want, what you want to do next, and the gaps you might have.” 

For Kimbra Brookstein, global leader, Tech Women @ Intuit and staff program leader for DEI in Tech, mentorship isn’t just a personal resource—it’s a mission. “Your network is your net worth. And that’s something I wish I’d known earlier in my career. I would have better utilized my network for mentoring opportunities to enable and scale my own growth. Now that I’ve learned the value, I’m more engaged in organizations that I’m passionate about, both internally with Intuit’s employee resource groups and externally with local orgs that support women and underrepresented groups in tech.” 

Making a match

As the creator and leader of the TWI Mentorship program, Kimbra now plays a vital role helping women at Intuit and beyond build the relationships that build successful careers. Following a pilot in 2018 with 14 mentor-mentee pairs, the program launched globally in 2020. Since then, it has impacted 918 total mentor pairs through six global cohorts, including women and non-binary professionals as well as members of underrepresented racial groups. 

“For people on the introverted side who don’t feel comfortable sending an email to someone they don’t know, it’s also helpful to look for organizations with an official mentoring program,” says Beryce Garcia. “I found my mentor through Tech Women @ Intuit. I just filled out a form about what I was looking for and my background, and they paired me with someone who I’ve been able to develop a really great relationship with.” 

Fitting of an organization with a strong data science capability, participants in the TWI Mentorship program are paired with each other using a third-party matching system which takes into consideration information shared on their enrollment form. This includes technical and leadership qualities they’re most interested in developing, their career aspirations, the technical craft skill rubrics and company values they’d most like to focus on, and a few practical matters such as time zone preferences. 

Mentors and mentees are expected to meet for at least one hour per month for the six-month term of their pairing. At the end of this time, they are free to continue their relationship if they wish, while also being encouraged to switch pairs to continue building and diversifying their personal board of directors. 

In our upcoming blogs, we’ll talk about how technology professionals at any company can form valuable mentoring relationships to advance their career, build their skills, and grow their network. If you’re interested in exploring opportunities for mentorship as part of the Intuit organization, visit our Careers at Intuit site to find out how you can join our team.

Intuit is an Equal Opportunity Employer. For more information about our EEO policy, please click here.

Intuit

Our team of contributors loves to uncover inspiring stories and share helpful tips to help power your prosperity.