Code First Girls
Code First Girls are transforming tech by providing the skills and inspiration for women to become kick-ass developers and future leaders.
Pitch us on your solution
Currently women represent 49% of the workforce, but only 19% of the workforce in the tech sector. This shortage of female involvement in technology leads to social ills from gender income discrepancies to male-centric datasets which build the systems that control our world. Health apps with no period tracker, crash test dummies designed on a male "standard", and "one-size-fits-all" stab vests all prove that the absence of female insight in technology and engineering is not only unfair, but is also genuinely dangerous.
To direct the transition to a more equitable balance in the tech workforce, Code First Girls launched in 2015 with a mission to support women to rewrite their future and transform the industry through educational opportunity. So far, we have taught in excess of 10,000 women how to code for free, delivered 200k hours of education and connected women to opportunities with 40+ employers.
What is the problem you are solving?
Women only make up 19% of the tech workforce despite representing 49% of the general workforce in Great Britain. This is leading to dangerous outcomes in engineered products that we use every day for one in two people in our society.
Despite the fact that many companies are aware of this problem and are taking steps to alleviate it, tech imposter syndrome continues to create a vicious cycle of alienation and self-esteem depletion for women who are trying to break into the tech world.
Code First Girls provides women with free coding skills alongside a sense of community and confidence building team activities. This gives women the hard skills to be the best applicant for a new job and a sense of belonging in a broader community.
Who are you serving?
The astounding success and popularity of our classes so far is proof of their resonance with young women and the companies that are looking to hire them. In less than five years we have gone from training 60 women a year to a projected 13,000 in 2020, crushing our goal of training 20,000 women by 2020.
We work closely with our partner companies to understand their hiring needs so that we can specifically tailor our ongoing and new courses to match their role requirements. This maximizes the impact of Code First Girls on young women through increased employability and industry awareness.
Currently all of our classes are delivered in person, which enables our teams of volunteer tutors to work closely with students and teach to the class. Unfortunately this limits class sizes and forces us to turn students away. In 2020 a priority is to launch a Code First Girls MOOC to increase accessibility for all women.
What is your solution?
When Code First Girls launched in 2015, we provided one HTML Web Development course. Since then, we have added free courses in Python and SQL for data science and growth has been increasingly rapid. Our courses are provided in partnership with universities and community centers, and are administered by highly knowledgeable volunteer tutors. This enables each class to code along with the trainer and work together in groups to develop a project over the course of 8 weekly 2 hour classes.
Beyond our free courses, we also offer paid coding courses to women interested in career development or a job switch to a tech career. These are administered in the same way as the free courses, but we charge a nominal fee to cover costs.
Revenue is further generated through partnerships with larger companies looking to strategically develop their talent pipeline with targets of gender inclusivity.
As we look to the future we will be building out our community activities through scheduled events, social media, and online courses. We also will work to create a robust network of women in technology through creative projects like a new podcast and invite-only female executive dinners.
We will continue and increase our traditional taught courses while growing into online teaching and community development with backing from our global industry partners.
Select only the most relevant.
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:London, UK
Our solution's stage of development:
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
There are many coding bootcamps. There are many podcasts, blogs, and websites which support women in technology. Only Code First Girls provides all of them for free. This uniquely provides the opportunity for providing hard skills and inclusion.
Why do you expect your solution to address the problem?
- Women take part in free coding courses and engage in the community.
- This increases their skills and makes them more hirable.
- Women are finding creative, engaging, good-paying jobs in technology, as proven by our record of placing women in exciting careers with 40+ companies.
- Women finding joyful employment in tech will help to mitigate the vicious cycle of imposter syndrome and take steps to alleviate the gender disparity in technology.
Select the key characteristics of the population your solution serves.
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries will you be operating within the next year?
How many people are you currently serving with your solution? How many will you be serving in one year? How about in five years?
1. We have taught 12,000 women to code.
2. Before the end of the year we will have taught over 20,000 women to code.
3. In five years we can expect to have taught 200,000 women vital coding skills.
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
In the next year we will introduce online courses and support our community through content marketing like podcasts and videos.
Within the next five years we will begin to internationalize into the English speaking world.
What are the barriers that currently exist for you to accomplish your goals for the next year and for the next five years?
There will be significant financial outlay to develop new courses for the online medium. It will require tens of thousands to write new material and there will be technical challenges to host it on a platform which will not sacrifice the educational experience for our students.
There may be institutional challenges with internationalization since the US university experience is so different from the UK, and there may be significant challenge in overcoming incumbents like edX and Coursera which are already partnering with large brand-name universities.
How are you planning to overcome these barriers?
The cost of new material can be mitigated by partnering with a corporate sponsor to develop the content. For example, the new SQL course was developed, trialed, and taught by employees at a large social media platform. We have provided the training at their campus, and now we own the IP of the course. This model could be replicated with new courses and MOOCs, with support from universities to make sure that we do not compromise the educational experience of our students.
We can avoid competition with the branded universities on edX and Coursera by strategically partnering with US state schools which have larger student bodies with less resource per student. Trialing our courses at one school and scaling after a feedback driven iterative process will also help to avoid any cultural friction.
If you selected “My solution is already being implemented in one or more of ServiceNow’s primary markets,” please provide an overview of your current activities in those markets.
Code First Girls free code training to women across the UK.
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How many people work on your solution team?
Five full-time staff, five contractors, and hundreds of volunteer code trainers.
For how many years have you been working on your solution?
Why are you and your team best-placed to deliver this solution?
We are a woman led team of tech industry veterans and educators. With genuine insight into the lived experience of women navigating the tech world, we are uniquely positioned in the heart of Europe's technology hub to empower, equip, and enable women to become the kick-ass coders and future leaders that we need.
With what organizations are you currently partnering, if any? How are you working with them?
We are working with clients in government, financial services, consulting, software, and education sectors to develop and deliver candidate training programs for their graduate recruitment efforts.
What is your business model?
We provide free coding courses to women who are in full time education or who have recently left, as well as paid courses for those currently in their working years. Women are counseled on how to find or switch to a career in tech.
To fund our free courses, we partner with businesses to support their hiring processes and consult on inclusion in tech.
What is your path to financial sustainability?
To fund our free courses, we partner with businesses to support their hiring processes and consult on inclusion in tech. We also help to market female-focused hiring schemes to our community.
Why are you applying to the Digital Workforce Challenge?
Beyond the financial challenges of new online courses, being selected will help to give our organization international awareness and will be essential for our efforts in growing internationally.
What types of connections and partnerships would be most catalytic for your solution?
With what organizations would you like to partner, and how would you like to partner with them?
University and community partners to host new courses and companies seeking insight to develop a more inclusive tech workforce will both be essential to our accelerated growth.
- Jonathan Hewitt Growth Marketing, Code First Girls