We caught up with Alaina Percival, Co-Founder, Board Chair and CEO of Women Who Code, to find out how the business was started and what the plans are for Women Who Code in the future.
Why Was The Business Started?
Women Who Code was started to support women currently engaged in technology careers. There is a lot of attention given to helping young women and girls start learning to code, and while that is great it ignores the struggles of career aged women working in the industry, who often report higher levels of job dissatisfaction and who are more likely to leave their places of employment mid-career.
Failure to elevate women in technology and support them to overcome significant biases has led to a dramatic underrepresentation of women in technology and leadership. We aim to build proportional representation who can change the face of the industry, as well as leaders who can enact policies to help pave the pipeline for future generations.
What Makes Women Who Code Different?
Women Who Code distinguishes ourselves by focusing our efforts on supporting career aged women in tech. We work to elevate their industry skills and career goals while providing a sense of belonging in an industry where women are underrepresented. We do this work on a global scale, serving members in 122 countries.
Our decision to focus globally is based on our belief that women everywhere deserve to have access to the community and support that Women Who Code provides, as well as the financial opportunities that can be made available through our free technical and career training programs.
What Has Women Who Code Taught You?
It’s been difficult getting people to understand how important it is to support women who are in the tech industry right now. Grant makers and funders want to focus on girls who will be entering the industry a decade from now. Supporting youth is very important, but they need a better industry to enter, and with women leaving technology jobs at a rate of 56%, a contribution to this generation will have an immediate effect – on the individual, the company she works for, the industry, and on society as a whole.
It’s strange that getting people to understand the importance of supporting this generation of women to excel into leadership roles has been such a challenge, because people usually want to experience instant gratification for their efforts. I think this But through data and education, we hope to shine a light on the importance of our work.
What Are Your Plans For Growth?
Women Who Code traditionally holds 2,000 in-person free career and technical training events each year. This year, due to COVID-19, we have rapidly pivoted our programming, launching Women Who Code Digital, a fully remote community of tech professionals all working together to provide the same great educational programming we always have, from the safety of our member’s homes. This has allowed us to expand our reach, connecting with people who might not live in a major tech city, or who might not have the time to travel to an in-person event. In this way, we have created a borderless community of support that can be accessed by people anywhere.