Bringing Gender Parity to the Tech Pipeline

October 19, 2015 • Blog Post • By Ritika Puri, NewsCred

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IN THIS ARTICLE

  • San Francisco-based Hackbright Academy hopes to accelerate the number of women joining the developer circuit, faster
  • Wendy Saccuzzo, director of career services at Hackbright, discusses best practices for tech companies working to close the gender gap

Tips from an all-women's coding bootcamp Hackbright Academy

Many companies have a vested interest in improving the gender ratio of their engineering teams. But here's the problem: there's a pipeline challenge, and many corporate-led efforts aren't working. According to one recent report, women are leaving the tech industry in droves. It will be years until there are enough women technologists in the job market to completely close the gender gap.

But one organization is looking to disrupt the status quo and accelerate the number of women joining the developer circuit, faster. The organization is called Hackbright Academy, a San Francisco-based coding school for women. The organization's overarching goal is to increase female representation in tech through education, mentorship and community. Many of these women come to engineering from legal, medical, science and humanities backgrounds - all perspectives that bring more diversity to the developer profession.

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Hackbright Academy works with a number of industry players to match its graduates with jobs. Here, Wendy Saccuzzo, director of career services at Hackbright, shares best practices for tech companies working to close the gender gap.

Get to know candidates beyond their resumes.

Every few months, a new cohort of employment-ready developers graduate from the academy. As part of the program, Hackbright provides students with resources to get ready for the developer job market.

"During the 10th week of our curriculum, we host a career day", says Saccuzzo. "We have 35 students demonstrate their projects and 30 partner companies view the demos. The companies spend 10 minutes with each student."

Saccuzzo explains that Hackbright's best corporate relationships have been with companies that take action upon their promises to improve diversity and gender parity.

"These include companies like Yelp where there are internships for graduates of coding schools", says Saccuzzo. "New Relic has hired several alumnae full-time, where there is opportunity for growth and challenging work. Companies that empower diversity are assigning senior engineers to new hires as mentors."

Build a supportive environment.

The key to increasing diversity in tech, according to Saccuzzo, is to be gender agnostic and focus on providing a supportive and welcome environment for all newcomers to tech, where women may have shied away at younger ages in the first place.

"I think leadership has a big impact on diversity", says Saccuzzo. "If they're going to take action and push for it, the company will be more diverse."

Be persistent.

The key is not to give up or let that uphill battle scare you. It's to get started, be committed to the future, and push change throughout your organization. There are a lot of roles to be filled, and a lot of skills that come from diverse backgrounds. These fresh perspectives can help add new product and user experience benefits - even quirks will be critical to creativity. The first step is to revisit your definition of what makes an ideal hire and how to find that person.

"Coding schools, in general, have only been around for a few years, and companies are new to hiring from them", says Saccuzzo. "Creating onboarding processes and programs for mentorship encourage the success of new hires."

A successful hiring experience includes professional development for new hires, and encouraging a wide range of experience. "Engineering teams should not only be involved in exploring new technologies and trends, but also be inclusive of diverse engineers who will bring a range of perspective and experience", Saccuzzo added.

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