Anna Brailsford, CEO at Code First: Girls, is training an army of coding women to infiltrate the "boys' club" of tech.Coding the future: Anna Brailsford
What is Code First: Girls?
Code First: Girls is one of the largest communities of female coders in the UK and Ireland.
Our mission is to increase the number of women in tech. We give them the skills, space and confidence to succeed.
Over the past five years, we have provided free coding education in over 50 universities and centres across the UK. We are now working to connect the women we have taught to jobs and opportunities in more than 40 companies.
What are the issues affecting women in tech? Why aren’t there more women in the industry?
Tech is still perceived as a boys' club, with approximately 83% of the sector dominated by men.
It is no surprise that women often describe experiencing imposter syndrome when entering tech roles or the startup world. We work with women to facilitate self-belief, confidence and the realisation of potential.
Code First: Girls provides this service to women from a variety of backgrounds, regardless of their educational status or degree discipline. To date, there has been a demand for Computer Science and STEM-based disciplines – subjects which are disproportionately studied by men.
Why do they leave the industry after a relatively short time compared to men? What needs to be done to change this?
We have found it’s not just about attracting women but the extent to which women land well in their career. It is often the culture of an organisation or the startup world that acts as a daily grind on a woman’s perceived sense of worth.
Culture is incredibly hard to change. It requires a recognition of the problems and a commitment to challenge the status quo. The best organisations lead from the top and involve men and women in a mentorship culture.
Why do we need more women in tech?
Tech is the language of the future. The products and services that are created should reflect society. In very simple terms companies that achieve greater gender parity are more likely to have a competitive edge.
The best innovations have come from placing people from the most diverse backgrounds in the same time and place. Too much of the same will always result in stagnation.
What is Code First: Girls doing to get more women coding?
Code First: Girls is working more closely with the industry to understand how we can provide structured opportunities for women.
It’s not merely about introducing women to code, but working with companies to create sustainable talent pipelines and deeper levels of relevant education. By bringing women and industry closer together we hope to future-proof the industry.
Big companies are still failing to achieve diversity in coding and other areas of tech. What’s gone wrong?
Gender parity can’t be achieved overnight. The gap is wide and requires a long term strategic approach as opposed to simple box-ticking activity. It’s important for companies to focus on retention just as much as attraction.
Equally, we encourage companies to perceive education and mentorship as an investment in the future of the company and the women on a personal level. Investment in potential creates emotional bonds that surpass any employee engagement ‘perk’.
What does a woman need to do to enter the tech industry and succeed?
- Join a community of like-minded women or find a mentor. There are many wonderful people working in tech that also want to make a difference for women.
- Don’t accept less, ever. You have earned your place, now show the world you deserve just as much as your male counterparts.
- Believe in yourself. Seek out a paid or free training opportunity that aligns you with a great opportunity to build your career.
- Check us out to see how we can help you!
What Codemotion is doing to increase diversity in tech
At Codemotion, we make sure our conferences offer a diverse range of speakers from across the industry, including inspirational women.
Watch our interview with Dora Militaru to find more about #womenintech