The UK social enterprise Code First Girls yesterday (25 February) announced new strategic partnerships launching this year, collaborating with 14 prominent global and UK corporations in a bid to increase gender diversity in technology – which remains a traditionally male-dominated field.
This year, Code First Girls is partnering with the likes of Rolls-Royce’s R² Data Labs, BT, Dell Technologies, Aviva, DAZN, Just Eat and more in the UK; as well as French VC firm Jezby Ventures in the enterprise’s first collaboration with a company outside of the UKI; on top of expanding its association with Bank of America and Goldman Sachs.
The announcement forms part of the non-profit’s continuing pledge to double its community in 2021 to include 40,000 women. As part of their commitment, the companies will together provide £10,000 worth of free education to every female undertaking a course with Code First Girls.
The partnerships purposely cover a broad scope industries, including engineering, telecoms, software solutions, insurance, banking, media and more. It’s hoped that this diversity of options will promote tech-focused careers as accessible to women, whilst showcasing the scope of pathways that can be undertaken on the route to successful employment, regardless of socioeconomic or educational background.
“There is a growing gap between education and women going into technology, which is why more than half of women leave the industry. Employees play a key role in educating, empowering and upskilling women, as much as institutions do” – Anna Brainsford, CEO, Code First Girls
It’s a timely initiative, with investment in digital upskilling being deemed crucial to the UK’s economic recovery from COVID-19. Additionally, data confirms that the pandemic has been hugely detrimental to matters of gender equality, with research from McKinsey & Co revealing that women are 1.8 times more likely than men to lose their jobs as a result of the pandemic, and whilst females comprise 39% of the global workforce, they account for 54% of overall job losses.
Anna Brailsford, CEO of Code First Girls, commented: “At a time when women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, our priority is to help women achieve fair employment in the tech industry. We have seen a vast increase in interest for our courses since the first lockdown, with over 800% growth in registration for classes. Through these new and expanded corporate partnerships, we’re able to provide more women than ever with the opportunities to learn coding, build confidence through mentorship and gain access to a wide range of careers in technology.
“There is a growing gap between education and women going into technology, which is why more than half of women leave the industry. Employees play a key role in educating, empowering and upskilling women, as much as institutions do.”
Every corporate partner involved has agreed to give women the fair advantage, pledging to provide them with the tools and skills needed to thrive in tech-based roles – including in software development and data. Through Code First Girls, women can apply for a range of free courses, such as:
- Nanodegrees: open by application and interview to high potential women who desire a career in the field of data or software. Programme includes Python, SQL and building end-to-end systems. Come the end of the 12-week course, participants have the opportunity to work with one of Code First Girls’ partner companies.
- Classes: designed to instil core skills in web development, python or data across 50 universities and other UK destinations, these programmes include live demonstrations and application through in-class exercises. Candidates have the chance to undertake independent tech projects and start their own online developer portfolio.
- Open online courses: offered in short segments to instil technical expertise, confidence and career discovery, these programmes are delivered for maximum social reach to women of all ages via social media platforms such as YouTube.
“Through our long-standing partnership with Code First Girls, we have been able to make a real impact to achieving gender parity in the industry. Technology plays a huge role in what we do at Bank of America and we are committed to fostering a truly diverse and inclusive pipeline of talent,” said Suzanne Janse van Rensburg, managing director, global technology executive at Bank of America.
The announcement follows recent research from Accenture which emphasises that failure to close the digital skills gap could forfeit £141.5bn of the GDP growth, promised by investment in intelligent technologies over the next seven years. As such, the Code First Girls partnerships highlight the active role and responsibility global businesses are taking to combat the growing digital divide across the UK jobs market.
From the archive: Code First Girls surpasses goal to teach 20,000 young women to code