Entering the field of technology is a competitive feat that can be even more daunting when you’re a minority player. That’s exactly why Girl Develop It was founded.
Started by two women in New York City who wanted to change gender representation in technology, Girl Develop It has been successfully teaching more women software and web development skills since 2010.
Interest hasn’t waned since selling out their very first class in 24 hours. In fact, today there are chapters in 58 cities across the US with 55,000 members nationwide.
Considering some of the statistics that surround women in technology, it seems like the non-profit is exactly what we’ve been needing.
Women only earn 28 percent of computer science degrees and hold only 25 percent of computing jobs. They are less likely to hold leadership positions, start their own company, or receive investments, and more likely to quit a job in the high tech industry.
These statistics do not derive from a lack of interest or determination. Seventy-four percent of young girls express interest in STEM fields and computer science. Yet, where women hold 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees in the U.S., fewer than 18 percent of those are in computer science, according to Girl Develop It.
The fact of the matter is that, as a field that's male-dominated, breaking into technology can propose a unique set of challenges for women.
There’s often a lack of support and resources that deter them from entering the field. There are implicit biases and barriers to advancement once they do. Not to mention, women will receive a lower salary than their male counterparts 63 percent of the time.
Girl Develop It aims to provide affordable classes and foster a judgement-free community for women that want to make a career change or start learning these technical skills.
Students are taught the essentials needed to succeed working in technology, while being surrounded by like-minded women (though anyone who wishes to take a class through Girl Develop It is welcome to attend).
Classes and meetups cover topics from learning a programming language or building an iOS app to networking and salary negotiation.
One of the most active chapters is none other than Girl Develop It Boston, which comes as no surprise due to the city’s thriving community that’s home to both eager entrepreneurs and seasoned leaders of the tech world. If you’re considering a career in technology, Boston is a good place to be, which is perhaps why the Girl Develop It Boston chapter boasts over 4,000 members.
Upon becoming better acquainted with Girl Develop It Boston through Chapter Leader Maura Oray in a recent Q&A, we realized there was an opportunity for SmartBear to further support these women as they make the leap into technical roles.
When asked about how companies can be more inclusive of gender diversity, Maura said that having them reach out to donate or provide a teaching space is a big part of the success Girl Develop It has experienced. Aside from that, oftentimes it’s as simple as spreading the word and being encouraging.
SmartBear is proud to be involved with Boston’s tech community, and we’re constantly looking for ways to give back. Whether that be through the day of service all employees are given or internal fundraisers such as Manis-for-a-Cure, part of our culture is finding ways to make work more rewarding.
We’re excited to host Girl Develop It’s upcoming Introduction to Python class at our Somerville HQ for February. As a programming language that’s been experiencing tremendous growth, it’s no surprise that the class has gained an interest.
Python is one of the easier programming languages to learn due to its simple syntax, and it’s used in developing big names projects like Instagram Pinterest, YouTube, and Spotify.
These details make it attractive to anyone learning to code for the first time. For many women and minority groups, it’s just about looking in the right place.
We hope that organizations will continue to support women who are interested in technology. Having peers, teachers, leaders, and companies encouraging women to learn these skills and break into these roles is the first step in creating a more inclusive culture and changing the face of the industry.
As for Maura’s advice for women interested in the tech industry? “My advice would be to keep learning and never stop,” she said. “Reach out to other women that are in technology, foster a good community, and find a mentor or someone to help you in your career.”
To learn more about getting involved with Girl Develop It Boston, look into their sponsorship opportunities or sign up for a class.
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