Why a project to empower women engineers in Merpay was launched.

This article marks the 15th day of Merpay Tech Openness Month 2021 Hello! My name is miisan and I am the engineering manager of the Merpay QA team. Today I am going to touch on the “Attract Women Engineers to Merpay project” not from a QA engineer point of view, but from a female engineer point of view.

Contents

  1. Where we are at currently
  2. About the Attracting Women Engineers to Merpay project
  3. Next generation will be proud of me
  4. We are looking to hire more people to join us in creating the product

Where we are at currently

Before I go into details about the “Attract Women Engineers to Merpay project”, I would like to first share with you the reality of today’s Japanese society.

Gender Gap Index

Firstly, I would like to talk about the gender gap index in Japan World Economic Forum(WEF) published the "Gender Gap Index 2021", which quantifies the gender gap by country. Based on the research results, Japan was ranked 120th out of 156 countries. Japan was ranked the lowest in G7, same as last year.

What is the gender gap index anyway?

  • Economic Participation and Opportunity
  • Educational Attainment
  • Health and Survival
  • Political Empowerment

It is an index that analyzes the disparity between men and women in each country based on 14 items in the 4 categories.

The gender disparity in the economic category in particular was large; gender disparity in income (101st), gender disparity in the number of managerial positions (139th), and gender disparity in the number of specialists and technical jobs (105th). We can come to a conclusion that Japan is far behind other countries based on this ranking.

*Reference: Gender Gap Index 2021

Gender Gap in the IT Sector

Next, I would like to talk about the gender gap seen in the IT sector. I’ve worked in the IT industry since my first job. However, I have never been in a team or project where the female to male ratio was 50:50. I believe many of you who have worked in the IT industry have had a similar experience. In fact, data shows that the percentage of female engineers is about 20%, and the ratio of women in managerial positions is about 12%.

In school, only about 30% of female students were STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) majors in high school. The number of female students who choose to major in science or engineering at university drops to 27.8% and 15.7%, respectively. At the graduate school level, it drops to 23.9% and 14.1%, respectively. The number of women who choose to study STEM decreases from middle school to high school, and even further in university.

I was an liberal arts major when I was a student, and there are actually many engineers from humanities major, but I still think that it is rare to come across women who study science and engineering.

*Reference:

About the Attracting Women Engineers to Merpay project

Background

At Mercari Group, we value and embrace diversity and inclusion.

We are trying to:

  • Pursue ease of use for our users
  • Build an organization that provides fair opportunities to all employees

FY2021.6 Employee Information (Mercari Group)

As part of the initiative, we have been actively engaging in many women empowerment movements to embrace diversity and inclusion at Mercari Group. However, we still have a long way to go to achieve our goals. This is why we need more people who believe in the same values as we do and join us to take on more new initiatives.

The path to the launch of the project

Now, let’s talk about the road to the launch of the Attracting Women Engineers to Merpay project.

At Mercari Group, we are working towards making our organization diverse and inclusive. As such, Merpay has decided to focus on hiring female engineers from April 2021 to further emphasize the importance of it. You might be wondering, "why now?”. I think one of the huge key factors is that our very first female engineering manager joined Merpay.

We first created a plan to create a talent pool at Go events and referrals that would lead to hiring. However, as expected, it didn’t go according to plan. To begin with, we struggled to form a team to create a talent pool. As we proceeded to execute certain initiatives at Merpay, we once again faced the difficulty of hiring female engineers.

We exchanged different opinions such as, “we will not be able to hire female engineers if we continue on like this”, or “can we lower the priority of hiring female engineers since we are doing fine now?” and had several discussions pertaining to hiring female engineers. Despite the challenge, we continued to brainstorm about what we can do to create a diverse and inclusive company culture.

As mentioned earlier, we do not have many female students who want to be engineers to begin with, so it is a fact that we do not have female engineers in the market. However, even though it is rare, there are in fact female engineers who work in the industry. I believe that there are female engineers out there who work in solitude without any role models to look up to.

So what we have to do is not to come up with hiring plans or goals, but rather to create opportunities for engineers to come together to share their experiences and to set a mindset that it will take time to hire female engineers. I think this will ultimately lead us to hiring more female engineers in the end. Therefore, we have proceeded to take the new direction of “attracting” female engineers instead.

This is how we started the Attracting Women Engineers to Merpay project.

Our mission is for people to come to us, Attracting Women Engineers to Merpay project, when hiring female engineers both internally and externally.

Our Initiatives

To be completely honest, we have not yet started making announcements about the initiatives. This is because we’ve only just officially launched this project in July 2021.

What we are planning to do:

  • Share information about Attracting Women Engineers to Merpay project internally
  • Share our plan and initiatives externally
  • Empower female engineers

These are some of our plans.

We are currently recruiting members internally to help us out with this project.

Next generation will be proud of me

Why I have decided to engage in this project

Lastly, I would like to touch on why I’ve decided to take on this project.

I was not assigned to this project by my manager, neither was I asked to join this project.

In June 2021, I decided to join this event called the Women’s Career Talk: Career Strategy for Women Working at an Web/IT Firms . Through this event, I asked the organizer of the event, micchie, whether there was anything I can do to help out. And this is how micchie welcomed me into this project.

slack

Continuing the legacy

I’m often misunderstood, but I don’t have much ambition, and it’s not that I have a big goal in mind that I want to achieve. It is also not a big deal that I’ve decided to opt in to joining the project. It is all thanks to my reliable co-workers like micchie who helped me take a leap of faith. The fact that I have someone I can lean on has made me more courageous. I just hope I can do the same for someone else too.

As I attended the event, I found out that there are many people who go through the same struggles as I did, but are still trying their best to create new paths. It meant a lot that I got to meet people who went through the same experience as I did. I didn’t even get the chance to do so before participating in this project.

Of course, I do not intend to tackle the problems that are also social issues in Japan alone. However, I believe strongly that there is great meaning in spreading awareness that there are indeed people like us, who face similar struggles, and that they are not alone.

Honestly speaking, I did consider quitting, but now I have hope that I can make an impact, even though it may not be tangible, as an engineer. I do not know how long I will continue to be an engineer, but I do hope that by working as an engineer, I will be able to pass on the legacy to the next generation.

Women’s Career Talk

women talk

As part of the Attracting Women Engineers to Merpay project, we plan to hold the Women’s Career Talk vol.2 on September 29.

Women’s Career Talk|Career Strategy for Women Working at an Web/IT Firms vol.2

We plan to make it a motivational event and create opportunities to think about role models and career models for people who are currently/are planning to be engineers or managers but are struggling to do so. We will also invite motivational speakers to our event.

We plan to address these topics:

  • Changes to life stage/career
  • Study methods to equip yourself with tech knowledge applicable to work
  • How to plan for your career

beyond the boundaries of organizations.

Please join this event if you are interested. As mentioned, I was able to connect with people and get the courage I needed by participating in this event. We are also looking for volunteers to be the 2nd and 3rd generation supporters internally and externally who have the same thought process as myself: “what can I do to contribute?”

As Mercari Group moves forward, we hope to solve the social issue of diversity and inclusion. It is difficult to make a change alone, but I believe that we can make a change by creating a community and by spreading the message together.

The Attracting Women Engineers to Merpay project plans to recruit more volunteers and make a huge impact by taking one step at a time.

We hope that we can create a path for future female engineers so that we can see a future where there is no need for Attracting Women Engineers to Merpay project and that “female engineers” are no longer considered a rarity.

We are looking to hire more people to join us in creating the product

At Merpay, we are hiring engineers, engineering managers, and product managers (click here for details of the positions available). We are still in the phase where we are establishing our new service, and we welcome members who would like to work beyond what is expected of their job title. If you would like to know more or are interested in the Attracting Women Engineers to Merpay project, feel free to apply for a casual interview.

Tomorrow’s article will be written by @a-r-g-v. Stay tuned.