The organisation conducts events on creating safe spaces for women in technology careers, learning new technologies and career growth
Bengaluru: Diversity is a hot topic of discussion, from Fortune 500 company boardrooms to start-ups, in the corporate world. While companies have started taking some steps towards making workplaces more women-friendly, women also need to step up and make use of the opportunities available.
This is where Women Who Code, a global non-profit registered in the US, steps in.
Started in 2011, the organisation, which has about 50,000 members across the globe, conducts events on creating safe spaces for women in technology careers, helps them come together, learn new technologies and how to grow in their careers.
Women Who Code, which is present in about 20 countries, is looking to expand its base in India, targeting the large base of women developers who might need career guidance. The non-profit is currently operational in Bengaluru, New Delhi and Mumbai, and plans to launch in two other cities by the end of the year.
“Bengaluru is a leader in the tech industry. As a city it really has a great potential for showcasing a successful organisation or a successful network not just in India but in South-East Asia and in Asia in general, which is why this is a tremendous opportunity for us," said Alaina Percival, chief executive officer, Women Who Code.
Percival was in Bengaluru recently to train India directors to take the network forward and get their feedback. Of the 1,000-odd members in India, about 700 are in the Bengaluru chapter.
Women Who Code works by electing directors for each city chapter who then evangelise the community by conducting at least one free technical event for women every month. At the events, soft skills and leadership training are woven into technical discussions.
“We have two program avenues, one is in-person events where we had 1,500 events last year. The other is a weekly publication called Code Review where we highlight success stories, and through that we gave away $270,000 worth conference tickets last year. We also gave away $350,000 in education scholarships," said Percival.
The organisation has partnered with and is sponsored by companies like cloud storage provider Box, Zendesk, Etsy, VMware and Nike.
These companies also look at the organisation as a ground for recruiting top women developers and building their brands as diverse tech organisations.
While in the US, one of the main problems is getting enough women interested in technology, in India, there are a far greater number of women developers whose challenge then becomes to get noticed in their organisations, stay in the workplace, and progress in their careers.
Through their continuous event and network support, Women Who Code hopes to help Indian women achieve this, said Percival.
For Bengaluru chapter director Shwetha Lakshman Rao, who works in the research and development department at VMware, Women Who Code provided a crucial lesson in leadership.
“I became the city director in early December 2015. In just a few months after taking up this initiative, I have learnt a lot in terms of technical and non-technical aspects. I get to learn leadership skills, delegation, time management, prioritization etc., which you can’t otherwise," said Rao.