When I first came across Makers Academy, a local Shoreditch startup, I was impressed. The idea behind the company is straightforward- an intensive 12 week course, turning someone with no application development skills into someone that can build web apps. What also piqued my interest was that Makers Academy also acts as a recruitment consultant, finding jobs for the people they train at companies looking to hire development staff.
The course isn’t cheap, at £8,000. But then, the benefits are really significant. An entry level programmer building Ruby on Rails apps can potentially make
£35k £25-£30k per annum. The return on investment, then, seems pretty clear, which begs the question= why aren’t central and municipal governments taking advantage of similar approaches? But this post isn’t really about politics, so let’s park that for now.
Shortly after meeting the firm, self-proclaimed Maestro Ruben Kostucki pinged me to see if I wanted to help with an initiative to help women learn to code. The idea was to look for sponsorship so that we could pay for women to go through the course, and hopefully become beacons, so that others could be inspired to follow suit.
Our longer term audacious goal is a fully sponsored woman only cohort for the Makers Academy, but for this initial experiment, we’re extremely happy to report that IBM is stepping up to sponsorship, so one woman can take the course for free. RedMonk, Shoreditch Works and MozFest are all supporters.
A competition to choose the winner will happen during Mozilla Festival (entrants must attend) between the 25th and 27th of October in London. If you’re interested in participating, ﬁnd more information here.
While on the subject of tech education for women, another organisation I am keen to promote is Tech Mums. Recently founded by Dr Sue Black, the livewire who led the campaign to save Bletchley Park, Tech Mums wants to help women lose their fear of digital technology, again with a structured course designed to tackle issues such as online safety. And yes the last session is coding in Python with Arduinos, which apparently is emerging as the most popular part of the course. Tech Mums is currently fund-raising with an indie go go campaign, so please make a contribution. I am particularly keen to support Sue and Tech Mums because they’re starting in Tower Hamlets, the poorest borough in England, yet adjoining the thriving Shoreditch startup cluster.
As Sue says:
We need to give more women the chance to see what opportunities there are in tech. To give them the confidence and understanding that enables them to create a better life for themselves and heir families. This is not only good for them, but also in the long run good for the economy. The more people in the UK that are tech savvy, the better chance we have as a nation of taking part in the digital revolution. Due to our inventiveness and creativity in the UK we led during the industrial revolution, are we leading now? Let’s wake up and take this great opportunity to create a Britain that is leading again. A digital Britain we can all be proud of.
I am not trying to change the world at scale, but rather just to do my bit to turn the dial. Makers Academy and TechMums are great vehicles to make a change.
“Educate a woman and you educate a nation”