women who code

The Story Behind Women Who Code

More than 50,000 members strong, Women Who Code (WWC) is one of the largest non-profit organizations advocating for the inclusion of women in the technology sector. Unfortunately for female coders and developers, their career path represents an occurrence that “breaks the mold” in the tech industry, and that can cause problems that range from annoying to career-ending. WWC pushes for changes in policy and private business that support equality and fairness in terms of creating opportunities for women to successfully contribute to the tech realms, and organizes and supports numerous local chapters across the world.

womenThe organization wasn’t always the goliath public service advocate that it is today; it has grown tremendously quickly since it was founded in 2011. WWC is headquarted in San Francisco but has built a significant presence in Washington D.C. In an effort to combat companies waging an internal war to maintain that status quo in the tech arena, the WWC brings women in tech as well as others who are interested in the field together into a collusive group.

Together with Girls in Tech and Women Who Tech, WWC has joined the rank of non-profits committed to providing coding sessions, networking hours and other community-driven events that enable women to expand and strengthen their careers in the technology industry.

According to Women Who Code higher-up percival, “our members are Women Who Code’s greatest assets. By focusing on their needs as we can empower them to become leaders and even super stars in their field. They can then in turn help to inspire and support other women, and the process continues.”

rosy coderPercival went on to explain that chapter founders and leaders do not generally receive payment and instead work as volunteers that contribute their own time and expertise. This altruism is the underlying engine that powers WWC.

Another interesting aspect of the company’s foundation: each WWC chapter has little oversight and is free to become whatever is most helpful to the women in tech in its district. These chapters, which span from India to Seattle, are connected using a cloud-based communications platform called Slack. Slack, an two-year-oldĀ startup-superstar recently valued in the billions, has apparently served as the organization’s central nervous system.

Gibilterra oversees the approximately 3,500-person D.C. WWC chapter, and recently spoke about her experience leading the group and building it into what it currently is: “The size of the city, I think, really helps decide what sort of organization will be formed.” According to Gibilterra, her chapter of WWC actually started without the brand as an initiative to find a place and a community where Gibilterra and others could code after work.

When a causal coffee shop meeting slowly turned into something much larger, Gibilterra’s coding group mutated from casual encounter to MeetUp worthy, and after a few months transformed into its own WWC chapter.

“Members sharing their experiences and inviting friends and co-workers through social media and in conversation led to huge growth,” Gibilterra explains, admitting she didn’t make any real effort to market the female-led coding meetings as such.

At this point in time, there are roughly 140 WWC directors all around the world.

“The fact that we’ve been able to expand so rapidly shows that there is a real need for the support that Women Who Code offers. There are brilliant women around the world that are doing amazing things in the tech industry. Our job is to build a community that connects them to one another, creating a sense of belonging and community to support them on their career path,” Percival concluded.

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