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How do we get more women into tech jobs? One way is through coding courses.
How can we get more women into technology jobs when they are a minority of those graduating with technology-related degrees?
One way is through upskilling courses or tutorials run by organisations like Code First: Girls, Women Who Code and 23 Code Street, a coding school for women.
Women Who Code is a global membership network includes women at all levels of the tech industry and aims to inspire women to excel in technology careers. The non-profit network has a long list of coding resources, including tutorials, articles, videos, and events. Events for members are free or low cost.
Code First: Girls delivers free tech education and has taught over 5,000 women how to code for free. It targets women aged between 18 and 25 for its free coding courses. It also offers paid coding courses to women, Hack Your Career in Tech events and training courses in teaching coding.
23 Code Street runs one-off workshops for women and a 12-week coding course for beginners based on weekly webinars. The aim is to give those who take part a strong foundation in web development, including how to build websites and apps for the web. The next course starts in July and for every paying student, the organisation teaches digital skills to a disadvantaged woman in the slums of Mumbai.
One person who took part in the 12-week pilot course last year is Kelly Jacobson Collins. She has two sons aged eight and five and lives in London. She was unemployed at the time she took part in the webinar course and looking to develop her skills to make her more hirable.
She came across the course while she was completing a Digital Retox online course with Digital Mums, who offer social media training. As part of the course, she decided to attend a breakfast about “Marketing and Tech for Social Good” hosted at 23 Code Street. After the presentation she chatted to one of the people at 23 Code Street who mentioned the pilot course. Kelly signed up the next day.
Kelly, who is in her mid 40s and has worked in technology on and off for the past 15 years but has not tech qualifications, says she often felt overwhelmed and confused when the engineering/development team talked about features and systems. She says: “I hoped that the course would give me new skills and a better understanding of technology. I also wanted to know if I could code and if I would enjoy it.”
She says the course boosted my confidence and has helped her in her new role as Product Compliance Director for an ad tech company called Unruly which she started last autumn. She says: “Whilst I realised when taking the course that I wasn’t going to fully retrain as a developer, I loved how the course gave me enough knowledge to understand the basics of something I knew nothing about before.”
Kelly thinks there is definitely a need for tech courses directed at women. She says: “I think many women didn’t try these skills at school and that doesn’t mean they can’t develop them, just that they weren’t encouraged and that often the curriculum and classes were framed for boys.”
She would like to see more female role models in tech, representing a whole range of women. “We don’t just want to emulate a woman; we want to emulate a woman we want to be like,” she says.
She adds: “I don’t think that girls are encouraged as much at school to follow the career path and choose the appropriate subjects for a career in tech. Overall, I think it’s a social rather than a biological thing as the biological differences have been shown to be tiny. It starts early on – if your friends are doing gymnastics club not coding club then you’re going to go to gymnastics as a nine year old even if you want to learn to code.”
Kelly wants to continue working in a technology company and in a role focused around data privacy and security. She says she finds the balance between commercial and compliance very interesting. The course means she is more aware of the wider context of what she is doing.
*23 Code Street’s one-off workshops cost £10. Its webinar course for beginners starts on the 10th July at a cost of £550. Find out more and apply here.