Women in tech

US pioneer Women Who Code is shutting down because of a lack of capital

- April 29, 2024 3 MIN READ
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There’s no shortage of debate around venture funding for female founders, but if you’re looking for a veteran canary in the coal mine, Women Who Code, which kicked off in 2011 in San Francisco as a community group of female engineers seeking connection and support in the tech industry, is shutting down.

The board made the decision to pull down the shutters last week because the organisation, in an industry that’s created dozens of billionaires, lacks funding.

“This decision has not been made lightly. It only comes after careful consideration of all options and is due to factors that have materially impacted our funding sources – funds that were critical to continuing our programming and delivering on our mission,” the organisation said in a media release.

“Despite our collective efforts, the challenges we face as an organization have become insurmountable. We are deeply saddened by the difficult decision to dissolve the entity, but we hope that this work carries on beyond our end. The collective efforts of tech company leaders and supporters are needed more than ever to welcome women into tech, keep them, and ensure they are given the opportunity to thrive.”

Women Who Code said they built a community of more than 360,000 technologists “who deeply care about building an industry that is more diverse, inclusive, and equitable”, involving more than 1,000 volunteers and members in 145 countries.

“Together, we’ve delivered more than 20 thousand community-led events, awarded more than $3.5 million in scholarships, held developer conferences and technical summits in tech hubs around the world, logged more than one million high-skilled, leadership-building volunteer hours, given away more than $2.5 million in conference tickets for broader industry engagement, and shared more than 14,000 job opportunities,” the organisation said.

“Even more than these trackable outputs, we’ve come together to support each other, navigate the industry as a powerful force, share both technical protips and strategies for rising in our careers, and break barriers.”

Kate Kirwin, founder of She Codes Australia and the 2024 Western Australian young person of the year said she was said to sad to see the end of Women Who Code (WWC).

“I’ve personally been to some of their events on the east coast and in the US, and connected with several WWC humans over the years. I’m not going to lie, its been tough with She Codes Australia lately, we need your support now more than ever,” she said.

“Women Who Code didn’t close because they had completed their mission. I hope that what I’m doing in Australia can help see their vision through to reality.”

Kirwin said that demand for programs like She Codes Australia has been overwhelming.

“We just wrapped up a 6 month program in Perth, and I’ve just launched the info night for applications for the next one,” she said.

“We got 80 RSVPs for Perth in 24 hours – the demand is most certainly there for participants. For the last nine cohorts, the program has primarily been a scholarship model – businesses funding places in the program for their staff and the broader community as a recruitment pipeline into the business.

“We have been able to give out more than 200 scholarships in four years. This upcoming program getting buy-in from corporate has been harder, so the cohort size will be smaller, and some participants will need to pay their own way through the program.

“That’s the gap I’m trying to close at the moment, so we can give opportunities to more disadvantaged women.

“We have lots of work to do as a society on how we talk about tech, entrepreneurship, etc and changing the ‘face’ of it. Young women still can’t name women in tech, and think working in those careers is for ‘tech bros’. You can’t be what you can’t see, which is why we are trying to highlight female role models and stories.”

She Codes Australia launched in 2015 and has helped more than 12,000 women learn coding, creating hundreds of jobs.

If you’re interested in supporting them, see here.


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