Oli and Pete this post is for you, neither of you could possibly know where I was in my life when you rescued me. You do so much to keep things diverse for our students that I think you forget that it means so much to me too, as a developer, a teacher and a woman in tech. To have somewhere comfortable and enjoyable to go to work. To have you listen and trust me, for however small you think that is, that is all I have been searching for. Heck it's only taken 15 years! But you helped make it. Thank you 💚
So it rolls around again, it's like a birthday. It's exciting, in a way it's your special day, but you're also reminded of the years going past, or in this case another year of general crap you had to endure through no fault of your own: Happy International Women's Day.
Aaannnyway... today I would like to talk about something that in the past couple of years has meant a lot to me, maybe as a way of saying thank you to the people involved.
Eighteen months ago I started working for a company teaching adults how to code. I'm not a full time employee there, I contract for this company, it's only a couple of weeks every few months, however it's the closest thing I have to a permanent position and over the course of the eighteen months I have got to know the company, the founders, their views, outlook and the work they put back into the community.
The company is called DevelopMe_ and is situated in Bristol, UK. We make sure everyone who comes and learns to code with us is supported throughout the entire process. Oli and Pete, who co-founded and run the company, interview everyone who applies personally to make sure it's the right decision for them, and each student has a personal mentor through the three months (and usually beyond). They also work with companies within the local area to place each student in a three month internship after they have completed our training.
It is by far and away the best job I have ever had. Not just because I found I really really enjoy teaching, but because both founders treat me with respect and trust me to lead both my syllabus and my class the way I see fit. They encourage me beyond just the two weeks I teach for the full time course we run and recently started an evening course purely lead by myself with my own syllabus.
But it's not just the trust and respect they give me, which I have never experience in a work place before (not including contracts, I have worked in five permanent positions over my career). They have a diversity fund.
It took me a while before I even knew about this fund, but they put money aside to help people who want to come and learn how to code, who may not be able to financially or otherwise due to circumstances. They have a big push to bring women back into the workforce after having children, which I am a big fan of, especially in our industry where even 6-12 months out can make you feel like you've missed too much to come back.
One third of all the students we've ever had have been female and today there's always around 40-50% females in the classes (of which max size is 12) and on my first evening course the entire class was female!
And the best thing: It made me feel better, it made me feel comfortable and welcome and like I belonged.
Lots of the students quietly thanked me for teaching, which is lovely and thank you also for being students, because I really enjoy sharing all this knowledge I've accumulated over the years. Quite a few of them also mentioned it made them feel better to see a female, not only teach but have been a living breathing developer and have that experience and to show it is possible (albeit the dry comments I drop in about how it's not all roses).
I am genuinely bursting with pleasure I am helping more women into our industry.
But don't forget, the more diverse we can become, the more it helps those of us already here.