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Sep 10, 2015 | Insights

Hacking the System: Creating Gender Equity in the Software Development Field

The field of software development — and the technology industry in general — is overwhelmingly dominated by men. According to Ada Developers Academy (Ada), 85% of software programmers are male.

This lack of gender diversity is exactly what Ada is trying to fix. Named after Ada Lovelace (1815–1852), a brilliant mathematician whose foresight and inventiveness earned her the distinction of being considered the first programmer long before the invention of computers themselves, Ada Developers Academy is a tuition-free, year-long software development program for women with no previous experience in computer science. The Seattle-based school, a TSNE fiscally sponsored project, offers seven months’ worth of classes followed by a five-month internship at a tech company. Students leave Ada with the technology skills necessary to succeed in the tech world and the support crucial to becoming leaders in this male-dominated field.

“We believe we can train women who have the passion, aptitude, and interest in technology to become great software engineers, but who do not have a computer science degree,” says Cynthia Tee, Ada’s executive director. “We introduce more diversity into every company that hires one of our graduates, and they become more diverse — and build better software — because of it.”

Ada began almost two years ago and hopes to continue growing and widening its reach. According to Tee, the program wants to begin training women in related technical fields besides software development, spreading its impact throughout the country and the world. In the meantime, the school will continue to prepare more women for careers in the tech industry and support its expanding network of alumni.

“These women are bakers, flight attendants, baristas, biologists, chemists, retail professionals, designers, caterers, restaurant managers, education marketers… all from different backgrounds,” Tee says. “They came to Ada because they wanted to transition to a tech career, and they all share a strong passion for learning to build great software.”

For more information, visit adadevelopersacademy.org

TSNE’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program has served as a capacity-building partner to mission-driven groups for more than 50 years. We work with many projects and programs to support their management and administrative needs and to help them grow and thrive. Everyday, we are inspired by the fiscally sponsored projects we support and are proud to be their partners in creating positive social change.