In the past years, we have been engaging in initiatives to encourage diversity and inclusion in tech. In doing so, we are constantly trying to learn and help others learn more about how diversity and inclusion can be fostered in the organizational and wider societal context. 

This is why at the end of 2019 we reached out to our community partners to understand their viewpoints and activities surrounding diversity and inclusion.

Here is what our friends from Female Coders Linz shared with us:

Female Coders is a non-profit organisation for women who would like to gain or refresh their knowledge about programming. For this, they meet every other week in so-called StudyGroups to learn some programming together. Additionally, they organise a few events focussed on one topic, e.g. Vue.JS.

Female Coders was founded in Linz in April 2019 by seven women who work in different tech areas from software testing, over data science until self-employment.

How do you define diversity and inclusion?

Diversity in our club means that we want every woman* – regardless of her background, age or origin- to be able to join and enjoy our events. We want every woman or people who identify as female to try programming and we want our community to be welcoming so that we break the ice for women to experience programming by themselves.

How would you describe your organization’s strategy for diversity and inclusion?

For us, at female coders, it is very important to include everyone. Therefore, we provide our events for all women or people who identify themselves as such. During our events, we treat every individual equally and provide them with help depending on their needs. We want our participants and members to feel welcomed. We occasionally ask for their (anonymous) feedback, so that we can also improve and make sure our events have the effect we want them to have.

What initiatives have you implemented in order to reach your goals for inclusion and diversity?

As we want every woman to be able to experience programming by herself, we have implemented StudyGroups which happen every two weeks. During those StudyGroups we provide tutorials for different programming languages, which they can go through individually or in a group. They can also work on their own projects if they like. Through this, they get hands-on experience which we think is the most motivating way.

In some StudyGroups, we provide a deep-dive into specific tech topics to give more insights, which should help them to get a better understanding of the tech field or topic. Moreover, we host our StudyGroups at different locations (mostly companies or universities) so our participants have the chance to talk to people who already work in the field. This helps them to understand what is possible in the IT area. 

We also plan to host a Hackathon for girls and women only.

Which of your initiatives have been particularly successful? What was the experience like?

We started with our StudyGroups in April last year and received a lot of positive feedback since then. Many of our participants told us that they appreciate the tutorials we provide, the welcoming atmosphere and the help of our mentors (all our mentors are women who work in the IT area). We are also very happy about our sponsors which allows us to host our events in their localities.

Until now we asked our participants what they would like to work on (e.g. frontend or backend?). While some are happy to work on only one aspect, others would be interested in working on a full-stack-project so that they can experience all aspects of the programming world. Therefore, we are now working on a solution to provide our participants with an exercise to work on a project, where they can work on frontend and backend.

How have you been able to help achieve your diversity and inclusion initiatives and goals?

Our initial goal was to break the ice for women to start programming and from our point of view, we have definitely reached this goal. However, a lot more could be done. Our initiative is only a drop in the ocean. In order to change the perception of women in IT, we need more people and sponsors who help us spread the word and change the way we see people who work in IT. Additionally, we want to implement more marketing campaigns so that we can reach more women who usually don’t use meetup or Facebook.

What do you recommend that other organizations should do in order to incorporate more diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

Gender-neutral advertising (especially for their jobs and education in schools. We need to show the children and the people out there that there is nothing wrong about being a woman who works in the tech industry, but that it is a great domain in which women can excel.

How does WeAreDevelopers help you achieve your diversity and inclusion initiatives?

Through WeAreDevelopers we have the chance to spread the word of our initiative to a much bigger audience. WeAreDevelopers also provided us with free conference tickets which we gave to women that usually cannot afford or are afraid of attending such events. We hope that through this support we motivate many others to talk to women and get them started with programming or even start their own initiative to break the ice for women in IT.

Female Coders, Linz Austria

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