There’s a persistent problem in tech. We all know it, we’ve all talked about it, and many of us have experienced it firsthand. There just aren’t enough women in the industry.
At Trilogy Education, we’re working to close the gender gap in tech, starting with education. The best way to ensure gender equality in tech’s future is by teaching female learners the skills they need to succeed today.
It’s already happening. On International Women’s Day 2019, we’re proud to say that 30% of Trilogy’s graduates are female—and are now making their mark on the industry. Here are some of the incredible women in our network and how they’re closing the tech gender gap one day at a time.
It’s one thing to be aware of the gender gap in tech. It’s another to live it every day. That was Sarah Cullen’s experience. The web developer spent 20 years in the industry and noticed a key issue: there were never enough women.
So she decided to change that—by teaching the first Trilogy-powered all-female boot camp.
“Initially, I just thought it would be a really awesome thing to do. But I quickly realized this was incredibly important,” Sarah said. A few of her students had even been waiting for an opportunity like this for decades.
Over the course of the boot camp, Sarah became a great mentor for her students, sharing her personal experiences in the industry and encouraging them when they had doubts. “I remind them that they’re not alone—that there is a growing network of strong female coders that they’re contributing to,” she said. “These women are the future of the industry.”
By the end of the boot camp, Sarah saw her students flourish and felt optimistic about the future of tech. With more women-focused boot camps like Sarah’s, the gender gap doesn’t stand a chance.
Like many women pursuing tech, Rebecca Wieberdink didn’t think she was good enough. After high school, she decided not to apply to her dream school, Georgia Institute of Technology, and instead earned a degree in education at a school in Augusta, GA.
Then, while working as a teacher, she found the Georgia Tech Coding Boot Camp and realized it was time to put her fears away and pursue her dreams. When she got in, she was surprised—and thrilled.
The boot camp was tough, but Rebecca is no quitter, and she made it through thanks to the help of her instructor, TAs, and supportive classmates. “They showed me that I wasn’t alone in doing this,” said Rebecca.
Over the course of the program, Rebecca worked with groups of students to create projects from scratch. Her final project, though, was the best. And now she has big plans. “We created something we’re proud of, and we have plans to take it city-wide—maybe even nationally,” said Rebecca.
But the best part of the boot camp is that Rebecca found her confidence. She’s now a web developer at Augusta University. And of the future of women in tech, she’s optimistic. “We women are making a comeback!” Rebecca said.
After over a decade away from the industry, Verónica “Vero” Vélez was ready to return to her tech roots. Her current job was taking up all of her time and she needed a change. The only issue? Technology had advanced rapidly since her last IT role, and she didn’t have the right skills to land a job.
Then she found the Tecnológico de Monterrey Coding Boot Camp. “It was the first time I’d seen something like this in Mexico,” she said. “I have two brothers who are developers. I showed them the program and they said it would work really well for me.” So she signed up.
Within 20 days, Vero packed up her life and moved to Monterrey, a nine-hour drive from her home. Though it was a risk, she was determined to make it work.“It was time to make a change, to actually make a life for myself,” she said.
Throughout the course, Vero honed and refreshed her existing skills, becoming not just employer-ready, but employer-competitive. So much so that in less than six months, she went from outdated IT skills to a coveted group leader position at IBM, even before the program’s completion.
Vero teaches us that it’s never too late to upskill—and that if you want to better your life, you have to take risks.
Marie Nabors was ready to take a risk for her family. She loved working at her daughters’ school, but it wasn’t paying off financially. So she decided to enroll in the University of Central Florida Coding Boot Camp to try and make some of her life goals a reality.
Juggling a full-time position, childcare, and the boot camp proved to be incredibly difficult, but Marie was determined. “A big part of coding is figuring out how to do something by yourself when you don’t really know how to do it,” Marie said.
She learned that the best way forward was to be patient and understanding—which is something she says women struggle with. “I always want things to be perfect, and I can get frustrated and down on myself if I’m struggling to learn something. I think a lot of women are that way. We tend to be hard on ourselves,” she said.
That dedication proved to be worth it, and flash forward a few months and Marie landed a job at Disney. And though she loves her position, she says one thing is missing.
“I work with very few women. It’s not very balanced. We need more women in the field,” she said. But now thanks to Marie, there’s one more woman in tech, and we’re one step closer to equality in the industry.
Read Marie’s full story.
Bianca Salomon didn’t notice the gender gap in tech until she experienced it herself. A fashion designer looking to create an e-commerce site, she decided to enroll in the University of Miami Coding Boot Camp to learn how to optimize her business.
“Out of 30 people in the class, seven were female,” Bianca said. Used to the female-dominated world of fashion, she was excited about seeing new perspectives and also eager to help change the status quo. “It seems like technology just isn’t pushed for women,” she said. “It’s kind of like boys should like blue and girls should like pink. Men go into tech and women just don’t.”
Then Bianca came across Girls Who Code, a program aimed at increasing the number of women in tech. Even before completing boot camp, she decided to get involved by volunteering. Using the skills learned in the boot camp, she’s helping to shape the minds of eager 18-year-old girls.
“I get to show them what they can do with programming, and they see all the possibilities that are out there,” she said.
For the majority of her life, Caryn Carter knew nothing about tech—and she certainly didn’t have a passion for it. But when she was forced to learn some technical skills at her job, she realized it was the missing link in her life. With her interest ignited, she pursued a new position at Northwestern University.
Unfortunately, she didn’t know enough to truly excel in her chosen new role. She was stuck and filled with self-doubt. “When I started working with developers on projects, I felt ignorant. I didn’t know how problems got solved or projects got built,” she said.
So she decided it was time to recommit herself and upskill at the very university where she worked. After all, there was a boot camp right on her doorstep. Over a six-month period, Caryn learned how to solve real-world problems using tech, specifically by making apps to benefit the healthcare industry. By the time the boot camp was over, she found herself in a much better place to succeed at her job.
“The boot camp dramatically changed how I work with my team. My level of understanding has gone from 20 percent to 100 percent,” Caryn said. “The experience opened up a whole world to me of what I’m capable of doing and learning. It’s elevated my confidence level. I know that I can do whatever I want to do.”
Ghislaine Georges and Silu Lu
Boot camp Demo Days are an exciting—and often stressful—time for students. The culmination of the past six months of learning, each student develops and presents a project to industry experts and prospective employers.
Columbia University Coding Boot Camp students Ghislaine Georges and Silu Lu really wanted to make an impression. And as the only all-female team in the class, the two felt they had more to prove.
They had an idea in mind to create a mobile application that blind people could use to help them see, called ClarifEYE. “As we were given the assignments, we wanted to do something that was purposeful. Something we were both interested in but something that could be useful,” Ghislaine said.
But execution would be tough. To build the mobile app, the duo would have to teach themselves a more advanced code language—one that wasn’t covered in the curriculum. Leaning on each other, Ghislaine and Silu worked through each line of code together. On Demo Day, they made a great impression with the only mobile app presentation from their class.
And they’re not done with ClarifEYE yet. “We’re not satisfied with where the app is yet. We got a ton of knowledge in a really short amount of time. But we need to keep practicing and just keep learning. The graduation day of boot camp is not the end of our education,” Silu said.
Speaking about their place in tech as women, the two are optimistic and ready to make an impact. “We wanted to be included and represented in the industry,” said Ghislaine. And they’re off to a great start.
Closing the gender tech gap is not a one-woman job—it’s going to take the efforts of a lot of dedicated, passionate female coders, analysts, and other tech professionals to break into the field and lift other women up. But these graduates prove that impact happens one step at a time.
Want to help us move toward gender equality in tech? Learn more about the boot camps Trilogy Education has to offer.