Did you know that only 18% of computer science majors are women?
That number rises slightly when you look at how many women actually work in computer sciences (25%), but that means that women still make up only a quarter of the country’s coders, developers, and software engineers. The numbers prove that STEM fields are not currently a welcoming place for women (especially for women of color) and reasons why range from strong sexist bias to outright sexual harassment.
As a way to offset the barriers of entry for women in STEM programs, the three women’s coding programs below are working to create change. All three aim to foster inclusive, supportive environments to make coding and web/software development more accessible to women, as well as provide career readiness tips and networking connections to get more women into the industry. Read on to find out more.
1. Hackbright Academy
Hackbright Academy is an engineering school in one of the biggest tech hubs in the US: San Francisco. The school is a short ride away from the offices of innovative tech companies such as Pinterest, where several of their fellowship graduates have gone on to work. Part of what excites me about this school in particular is that it’s super versatile; they offer three programs of varying intensity, duration, and price.
I, for example, am currently enrolled in the free online crash course, which consists of 10 days of the most basic preliminary steps of software engineering. This course is meant to be an informative, yet non-intimidating way to get a taste of what coding is like, and dip your toes into the tech world. Hackbright also features an awesome part-time Introduction to Programming fellowship, which is a twelve-week program that meets at night to accommodate busy schedules. This program is a step above the free online course, but still basic enough for software beginners. The full-time Software Engineering fellowship is also twelve weeks, but provides more immersive training on all things software. Students learn Python, “one of the most in-demand and high paying languages to learn” in the tech industry, and have extensive career coaching along the way.
Here is where you can find payment plans and scholarships for these fellowships.
2. Girl Develop It
Girl Develop It is a nonprofit that provides women affordable opportunities to learn software and web development. The organization boasts 32 chapters in over 50 cities across Canada and the US, and is looking to expand. One of the main reasons I admire Girl Develop It is because of how many locations they have, and that they allow real women looking to bring coding to their communities start new chapters.
Girl Develop It also features free online lesson materials, including two classes (an introductory and an intermediate course) on HTML/CSS, as well as a Web Accessibility course on how to design websites in a more inclusive way for users with disabilities.
The average cost of a class from Girl Develop It is $54. While this is quite reasonable for a comprehensive software/web development course, the organization has also hosted over 1,100 free community events.
3. Women’s Coding Collective
Women’s Coding Collective (WCC) is an organization that provides “supportive, no-stupid-questions environments ” where women can work together to learn coding. What sets the WCC apart from other coding programs is that they offer collaborative online courses, meaning you actually receive an instructor who will assign lessons and answer questions, and a study group of other users who you can also consult with, all without having to go to a physical location. This is helpful for those of us that are too busy or far away to make it to WCC’s IRL courses and workshops in Boston.
All of the coding websites above are incredibly exciting to me. Each one offers courses in similar topics, but they’re all tailored to fit different learning styles and lifestyle needs. I love that they’re all made with the awareness that students need courses that will accommodate busy schedules, and that they all have both online and in-person options. Have you tried any of the coding programs above? Would you like to? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!