When I started my career as a software developer in 2004, I was lucky to have a woman developer as a mentor. After my introduction to the industry, it took me seven years to have the opportunity to work with another woman developer.
Some women can go through years in the tech industry and not even notice that they are one of the few. However, for some the journey can feel lonely and be full of obstacles. That is why I am creating a map of Women in Tech (WIT) communities so that we can find and support each other.
Inspiration: The Changing Face of Technology
Women aren’t the norm in tech. Many still think of a white male when they think of a software developer. This isn’t a stereotype that’s likely to change without some effort. WIT communities show another version of the modern developer.
“Being a woman, particularly a woman of color, in the tech space can at times feel overwhelming because the typical attendee does not look like me. It is critical for women to create communities and ecosystems where they can feel welcome and safe, where they can code, and where they can work together to create amazing things that impact our community and change our world. Finding allies and supporters who allow us to create and build these spaces is critical and I’m excited about tools that help us do just that.”
– Mariella Paulino, @MariellaPaulino, Girl Develop IT Chapter Lead
At these communities, you meet and interact with women from all walks of life such as women switching careers, women who just graduated from college or bootcamps, moms who are re-entering the job market, or founders who want to start their own companies. All of them energetically pursuing their new career or growing in their existing one. The support, the creativity, and the success of these women inspires newcomers to join this growing movement.
Mentorship: Gain Support and Guidance
These communities are some of the best places to find a mentor. A mentor who understands what you’re going through can share experiences and ideas to support you. Mentors can give you the knowledge that you can’t find in a classroom and help build your professional network. Through a WIT community, you can get a direct line to other women who have already established their careers and are willing to help you with yours.
Not only can you connect with those who have already “been there, done that,” but you can also connect with other like-minded women who are at the same stage of their journey as you. You’ll be able to swap stories, give advice, and support each other through the difficult but rewarding challenges ahead.
“No one can do this alone. You need a whole community of supporters in order to succeed and also to continue learning and growing as a programmer. I am so grateful to Women Who Code DC for helping me to believe in myself and develop the right skills to make the full transition into a career in tech.”
– Natassja Linzau, @DCWebmaven, Mentoring Program Lead at Women Who Code DC
The Future: Moving Forward in Tech
Of course, a WIT group isn’t the only place for you. As your career grows, you’ll seek new challenges. Though you may still take advantage of the resources and the confidence that a WIT group provides, you will network with other groups for specific programming languages or frameworks. Developing this wide range of experience is important for both a healthy career and a healthy mindset.
The current reality of a tech career is that you will be working with more men than women. Maintaining a strong connection within a WIT community shouldn’t keep you from the rest of the community. Eventually, you will work with other groups and seek knowledge with other communities. This is natural and healthy, but it’s always reassuring to know that your WIT community will always be there for you as a support system to fall back on.
The “Women in Tech” Community Map
For those of you who are just getting started, there are many of us out there to support you in your journey. Are you ready to find your tribe? Access the community map to find a Women in Tech community near you.
“Communities that cater to women in technology provide a safe, comfortable environment for those entering the industry. Through these communities women are able to find peers and mentors that enable them to advance their careers and code-related goals. Going on the journey to become a developer is a difficult one for anyone starting out but these groups and support systems help fill that journey with camaraderie and optimism.”
– Allison McMillan, @allie_p, Rails Girls DC organizer
A Request to Women In Tech Community Organizers
Please add your community here. This map will serve as a central place for women to find support wherever they are.