How CodeClan helps to get women into Scotland’s digital sector

March 2, 2017 by No Comments | Category Digital Public Services, Digital Scotland

Sara Dodd, Head of Curriculum and Accreditation at CodeClan, shares some of the creative ways it’s helping to improve gender representation in the digital workforce.

Many tech companies across the UK and Scotland struggle to recruit women. So much so, that many have turned to recruiting from non-traditional routes and, in this area at least, we are seeing change.

Coding Boot Camps

Throughout the USA and across Europe, a new breed of coding ‘boot camps’ have sprung up to fill the gap.

In Scotland, CodeClan was established in response to a need to fill over 11,000 software development roles by encouraging people from non-tech backgrounds to change careers.

Our course follows the intensive, immersive nature of boot camp programmes but focuses on delivering a strong set of technical, and soft skills.

It enables students to take up roles in Scottish companies as software developers after only 16 weeks. And our aim is to train a minimum of 40% women.

Post-it notes showing the benefits of taking a course at CodeClan

That is not easy, and to date we have only achieved a 28% intake of women. So we looked to the US for inspiration, specifically the Hackbright Academy in San Francisco who run a women-only boot camp.

Attracting more women into software development

We have adopted practices that create collaborative, supportive and inclusive learning environments. We also re-shaped our marketing to include more images of women coding, designing and developing software.

We can now use real life case studies of our women students to show how they have used their existing skills and experience to become valued members of tech teams.

We continually highlight the range and diversity of roles in tech from software and application developers, through to project managers.

Most recently we started evening courses that enable working women to gain the same software skills on a part-time basis. And we are doing more.

What CodeClan has done so far

Our activities include:

• encouraging our employer partners to offer scholarships to women
• encouraging our women students to participate in mentoring activities (with Girl Geek Scotland)
• hosting a number of ‘women in tech’ events
• working with senior women in IT, ScotlandIS, Scottish universities, SDS and the Scottish Government to inform strategy, develop progressive programmes and maintain momentum

We also want to widen our audience to reach under-represented groups. So we have engaged with initiatives like IntoWork, with Edinburgh City Council. It’s supported by the JP Morgan Chase Foundation and provides training for people on the autistic spectrum.

And we have just started Scotland’s first Codebar providing free coding training to people from minority communities.

Last year we contributed to diversity funds to help women attend tech conferences. We also became a founding member of Out in Edinburgh, an LGBT networking group. This year we will help Code your Future – a web development training programme for refugees.

Photo of young woman at CodeClanworking on a Mac

How we’ve helped

The great thing is we’re seeing results for both women and industry. There is a growing network of women who are now engaged in tech, and an encouraging number interested in changing their future.

The visibility of careers, access to learning and the dynamic offered by a friendly and supportive community all work to encourage both this and next generation to develop successful and fulfilling careers in the tech.

Join the conversation: #scotdigidiversity

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