Inspiring and Training the Next Generation of Female Tech Leaders

  • Categories:

    Community, Digital, Inspiration

  • Date:

    March 26, 2018

Inspiring and Training the Next Generation of Female Tech Leaders

Community, Digital, Inspiration

I once heard a fellow female business leader say there is a special place in hell for women who do not support other women. I couldn’t agree more.  

That’s why, when Wray Ward was asked to host a Girl Develop It coding seminar, we jumped at the chance. Girl Develop It provides accessible web and software development education for adult women, helping train and inspire the next generation of female digital development professionals.

Female developers are on the rise thanks in part to investments in STEM programs across the country, yet today they still earn only 28 percent of computer science degrees and hold only 25 percent of computing jobs (Observer). In fact, our own gifted digital team is almost all male, even though Wray Ward is 65 percent female. 

It’s clear the creative industry is flush with female talent — important considering that women influence so much of consumer spending and social media sharing. So, why aren’t more talented women choosing a development career path? 

Culture may be a big part of the problem. A 2005 MIT study showed men and women share similar cognitive abilities, personalities and leadership traits (Austin Startups), meaning we all have similar potential out of the gate. Yet, many women may feel less inclined to pursue tech-related jobs or related educational and career paths because modern tech jobs are dominated by men. Starting in childhood, women are frequently nudged toward “softer” professional tracks or even “stay-at-home-mom” roles — which of course are great for men, too, assuming that’s what they want.

So, here’s the million-dollar question: how can we make sure women have the means to overcome traditional cultural barriers in tech — to harness their enthusiasm and natural gifts for personal fulfillment and the greater good?

Luckily, nonprofit groups like Girl Develop It are working hard to change the digital tide by providing seminars, classes and resources to women who want to make a career change or land an interesting side hustle. Founded in 2010 in New York City, Girl Develop It started with one small class that sold out in 24 hours. Today, the organization has chapters in 58 cities nationwide (including Charlotte), representing 55,000-plus members who’ve embraced the life-changing experience of learning to code.

This past weekend, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of women who paid tuition to fill their Sunday afternoon with Girl Develop It instruction on React, a JavaScript library for building user interfaces. It was inspiring to spend time with these women, who had the initiative to invest their time and money in resources that will enhance their skills and give them more of an edge in the workplace. Many of them are also in classes together at Tech Talent South, a school dedicated to teaching adults and children who want to quickly grasp the basics of coding and web development. 

In an industry that has been male-driven for much of its existence (think “Mad Men”), it’s great to watch female talent grow in all areas of our business, not just development. 

You go, girls. 

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