Six Developer Bootcamps Helping to Close Tech Gender Gap

It’s no secret that women are largely underrepresented in the software engineering field and the numbers don’t lie: women make up only around 20% of the computer programming world. In the US, plenty of organizations are attempting (and succeeding) in drumming up interest in STEM subjects among K-12 classes. Many of these, like Girls Who Code, are working hard to generate interest with specifically younger girls. But how can we encourage women to start mastering programming skills or even switch careers after they graduate from high school? Developer bootcamps are one of the most popular and disruptive trends in education today – let’s take a look at how these immersive bootcamps may fit into the puzzle and solve some of this gender disparity.

No Boys Allowed
Two coding bootcamps in the US exist exclusively for women: Ada Development Academy and Hackbright Academy. Their primary teaching languages, tuition costs and curriculum differ, but both share the same overarching goal: to train female software developers and close the existing gender gap.

Ada Development Academy
Ada Lovelace is widely regarded as the world’s “first programmer,” so it’s only fitting that the Ada Development Academy take their name from the famed female mathematician. Ada is based in Seattle and offers a 24-week intensive curriculum, followed by an internship in the tech community. During this class time, students learn HTML/CSS, JavaScript and Ruby on Rails. Ada cites the wide gender gap in Washington state (85% of programmers in the state are male) as their impetus for training women to be software engineers, and perhaps the most enticing and unique feature at Ada is that tuition is free!

Hackbright Academy
Move a bit further down the West Coast to find Hackbright Academy, based in San Francisco. As a 12-week program, Hackbright is modeled after the more traditional coding bootcamp structure, but stands out with it’s commitment to boosting female engagement in tech and because they’ve chosen to teach Python as opposed to Ruby.

While some critics have commented that female-only schools don’t reflect the real world, Hackbright alum Siena Aguayo feels “that completely misses the point of all-female engineering schools in the first place. I feel like we’re really changing things- people are talking about the problem of women in tech a lot more. And that opens the door to talking about racial diversity and income disparity as well. (…) Hackbright graduated more female engineers than both Stanford and Berkeley combined this last year.”

Tuition at Hackbright Academy is $15,000, although students who accept jobs with companies in the Hackbright hiring network get a refund of $3k.

Scholarships
Not every school is exclusively female, but many bootcamps offer scholarships to women in order to boost applications and create more balanced cohorts.

1. Dev Bootcamp is one of the most established coding bootcamps in the US, and has led the charge in many ways in encouraging women to apply. Most recently, they partnered with Girl Develop It to offer $2500 scholarships to 10 women who are active members of GDI in New York. Dev Bootcamp also partners with the Levo Scholars program to give partial scholarships to women in their quest for gender parity.

2. Codeup is a 12-week school in San Antonio, Texas that teaches the LAMP stack along with JavaScript and jQuery. Each cohort, they offer 3 scholarships to women for 50% off tuition in order to level the playing field. Regular tuition is around $9,000

3. The Iron Yard awards two $1500 scholarships per class in order to lower the bar for women who want to break into programming. In addition, Iron Yard makes outreach into the local tech community a priority. Students are required to volunteer at the free kids’ programming camps.

4. Flatiron School in New York offers a scholarships for women who apply- while we aren’t able to pinpoint the exact amount, we’re more excited about the school’s most recent new hire: Sara Chipps is Flatiron School’s new CTO and will head up the newly founded Flatiron Labs, the school’s dev shop that will employ their graduates. Strategic hires like this show that the school is committed to bringing women on in senior positions.

How can you distinguish a bootcamp that’s trying to change the future of technology from one that’s stuck in the past? Look for schools that do outreach in younger communities and with underrepresented minorities. Visit the schools you apply to and meet with their founders or instructors to really understand their values. And once you’re enrolled, be sure to stay involved in your local tech community inspire the next generation of girls to be STEMinists!

Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated the technology Codeup teaches. It includes the LAMP stack, not Rails. 

Author
Liz Eggleston is a LivingSocial alum and co-founder of Course Report, the online resource for potential students considering a coding bootcamp. Catch up with Liz on Twitter @coursereport and on the Course Report Blog.

Way to code: adult coding groups driving an upskilling revolution

PyLadies also addresses issues that women face within a male-dominated industry and provides a judgment-free and competition-free atmosphere for them to learn and grow. The effect on the larger Python community is visible in the numbers. Female attendance at the annual PyCon US conference in California in 2012 reached 11pc – the first time the figure had broken into double digits. This year, PyCon US 2013 had more than 20pc female attendance, and the number of female speakers matched that.

[ via Silicon Republic ]

An App For Kids, By A Kid: Meet The 9-Year-Old Co-Creator Of ‘Super Fun Kid Time’

The best way to build a great product is to really understand the problem it is trying to solve. The latest awesome example of this is Super Fun Kid Time, an app made for scheduling kids’ playdates that was created at the Disrupt Hackathon by nine-year-old programmer Alexandra Jordan.

[ via TechCrunch ]

New Women-only Hacking Event Smashes the ‘Google Glass Ceiling’

After Blakk welcomed participants to the workshop, everyone divided themselves up into groups based on their expertise with particular programming languages: Python, Ruby, Java, C++ and Android Studio. There were several women, like Tricia Cerone, who are avid Glass users and were interested in connecting with other female early adopters.

[ via KQED ]

MasterCard Canada Calling All Female Developers to Master the Code

“Code is for everyone,” said Betty DeVita, President of MasterCard Canada. “Over the last 40 years, MasterCard has employed talented men and women to work in our API and coding departments. We know that women are under-represented in the industry but it doesn’t have to be that way. We encourage those who are in the business – or are studying to enter the business – to join us at MasterCard N>XT and show the creativity and talent women bring to the world of code.”

[ via Wall Street Journal ]

Suzi Perry: The technology industry needs more women

“Perceptions are definitely changing, though. There are some really fantastic women inventing amazing products, increasingly heading up tech companies and there are some awesome girl gamers. But it seems like it’s going to take time to catch up.”

[ via Yahoo ]

STEMinist Profile: Rachel Reese, Software Engineer/Math Geek

rachelreese

Rachel Reese

Software Engineer/Math Geek


What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
First, my family. I was given lots of opportunities as a kid to go to Science Camps, and Girls in Engineering programs; my mother made sure we had a computer in the house in the 80s; and my great-grandfather’s engineering achievements were always lauded. I also had books of logic puzzles constantly around, and was just basically allowed to explore and play with STEM-focused games. I think moving into algebra and learning about “x” in junior high math cemented it for me. Math was quickly my favorite subject, and I was always at or near the top of my math class. I suppose I consider Math — Algebra, really; the Algebra of groups, rings, and fields, not of “x” — to be my first love, and it still holds a very special place in my heart. :-)

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
Early in ’09, I was chatting with a bunch of friends, and we happened upon the fact that 3 of us in that group had been laid off within the month. One of the guys mentioned that a couple folks up in San Francisco had run a LaidOffCamp — a wholly volunteer event for people to gain new job search skills, find a supportive community, and craft a more productive job search (from http://laidoffcampaz.com/) — and then casually suggested we have one in Phoenix. Off and on for the next several months, (and as time went on, mostly on, even after I was back at a full-time job), I spearheaded the event, gathering speakers, volunteers, and sponsors, as well as sorting out a venue, the schedule, and all those little things that go into an event. It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.

(After the first event, I handed over the reins to Susan Baier, who has grown the event tremendously. See link above.)

Role models and heroes:
Emmy Noether and Annie Oakley.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
Because I love exploring, solving problems, and rising to a challenge!

Advice for future STEMinists?
Keep a list somewhere of some of the things you’re most proud of having done, or been involved in. Refer to it when things aren’t going well, and remind yourself what makes you unique. Find a mentor (or several) as soon as you can, and find supportive coworkers, or other folks at your level. I’ve always been pretty heavily involved in the dev community — I attend (and now speak at) conferences and user groups — and the folks I’ve met there have absolutely made the difference when I needed advice on a project, times were tough, or I was receiving conflicting information on career paths. Join a “Women in ” group, if there is one (or start one!), especially if you’re tiring of feeling like the only woman you know. Stay involved! Science is cool.

Favorite website or app:
Oof, this might be the toughest one. I’m going to go with Hulu, Audible, and Pandora. Those are in an entertainment equivalence class, and so they totally count as one, right? ;-)

Twitter: @rachelreese

Web: http://rachelree.se

STEMinist Profiles spotlights women in STEM. Fill out this online form to submit your own profile or nominate someone you would like to see included. Past profiles can be found here.

Is Impostor Syndrome keeping women out of open technology and culture?

The result is women, in addition to being undermined by others, internalize their criticism and undermine ourselves. We choose easier tasks that we believe are more suited to our skills; we apply for lower level jobs than our confident peers; we don’t give speak at conferences; we don’t step up as role models, mentors and teachers because we feel we have nothing to give to others. And who can blame us? We’re just responding to feedback from people we respect. Even those of us who know about our own Impostor Syndrome have to spend extra energy fighting with it when it comes time to share our work with others. Others see us underrating our own work and take it as confirmation of their Impostor Syndrome. We are not islands.

[ via Ada Initiative ]

Digitalundivided ups the dialogue on getting more black people into tech

“The only faces you see, the only people you cover in campaigns and in the media, are young white guys. If you were a young black woman or a young Latino woman and you wanted to get involved in tech and you don’t see anyone who looks like you, it’s hard to take that chance.”

“In order to change the face, you literally need to change the face.”

[ via Pando Daily ]

Kathryn Parsons, Decoded Founder, On The ‘Dangerous Illusion’ That Keeps Women Out Of Tech

The importance and impact of [Facebook CEO] Sheryl Sandberg and [Yahoo CEO] Marissa Mayer’s stories, visibility, and success can’t be underestimated. Technology is not just for boys. Coding is about thinking logically, problem-solving, collaborating, innovating. In what world are these not female skills?

[ via The Huffington Post ]