Free Software Developer School For Women Launches

In an effort to address both the mounting talent shortage in technology in the state of Washington and gender imbalance in the industry, Ada Developers Academy is launching a free yearlong intensive software developer school in Seattle for women who have no previous programming experience.

ADA LogoThe classes are not only free, but students can even apply to receive a $1000 per month stipend. But, you better act fast. The deadline for applications is Sept. 30 – just a few days away.

The application process includes a technical reading assessment and a logic assessment to gauge aptitude towards the qualities that will lead to better developers. The first group for the ADA program will have 15 women, but future classes may have anywhere from 20-25, with new classes starting every 3 months. At that rate, ADA hopes to graduate between 80 to 100 women each year to pursue positions as software developers in the Seattle area.

ADA’s Nuts and Bolts

The program length and curriculum is designed based on feedback from local companies, discussions with potential students, and input from similar developer academies. The first six months of classes will focus on HTML/CSS, JavaScript, Ruby on Rails and database fundamentals, says Elise Worthy, ADA Program Manager.

She points out that students coming out of the program won’t necessarily be programming in Rails, or some of the other languages that they covered. “One of our sponsors, who will have an intern, is a Python shop, and hopefully we can get students in .Net shops, and doing mobile development, even,” Worthy says.

After the six months of classes, students will take an internship at a local Puget Sound-area tech company for the remaining six months. One of the goals of the program is to provide female students, who have little or no technical experience, an opportunity to learn programming languages in depth, in addition to a hands-on experience, where they can apply their newfound skills as part of a software team that delivers production code for real applications.

“You’ll be expected to be in class from 9 to 5,” says Worthy. “We’ll have lectures and classwork in the morning, followed by open project time with mentors and instructors. We’ll have guest speakers during the day, and there will be homework.”

Who’s ADA?

Ada Developers Academy is a project of Technology Alliance, a statewide non-profit organization that has been around for 17 years. “Technology Alliance is a leadership organization of technology leaders that care about a healthy Washington economy. We work on issues including education and research capacity and entrepreneurial climate,” explains Technology Alliance and ADA Executive Director Susannah Malarkey.

The year-long program for women in IT was conceived in just under six months, and with the help of the Ada Developers Academy, both the shortage for high-skilled labor and the gender imbalance in software development will be addressed. Currently, 85 percent of software developers are male, the ADA stated in its press release.

Washington State’s Department of Commerce, as well as a handful of local companies, provide funding for the program. Worthy says the program’s economic benefits are driving the public contributions.

“Seattle has the worst pay gap in the nation,” says Worthy. “Women make 73 cents on the dollar that men make, and by giving women alternative opportunities into higher-paying technical roles, that does a lot for Seattle’s economy, as well as social benefits.”

9 Responses to “Free Software Developer School For Women Launches”

  1. I am a male that lives in Washington state, going to school to go into this field and paying for it myself; I am furious about this! Not only is there a program for people to compete against me for free specifically designed to get people other than me there, but I have to pay for their advantage over me?

  2. Jeremy Reston

    Bob, given the pervasive wage gap statistics, and the fact that women have historically not been encouraged to pursue technical careers, it doesn’t seem that males are having any problems securing high-paying jobs in IT. And even given 150 new female developers, we will not be anywhere near gender parity in the field.

    You may not understand the definition of sexism — the belief that one sex is SUPERIOR to another. It doesn’t mean “helping out one sex in some way that doesn’t help the other sex in the same way.” The YMCA is not sexist (nor is the YWCA). You probably wouldn’t find the existence of fraternities and sororities morally objectionable. But I suspect you know all this and are just trolling.

    Or are you just scared of losing your job to an ADA graduate?

    • Bob Berry

      I’m not worried about myself, but I have witnessed this industry send jobs overseas and this government decide that discrimination is ok as long as you pick on “certain” groups. The fact that women not only can recieve this advantage, but just because of their gender recieve assistance that their male counterparts can never hope to get is just wrong. The young men in this country are being sold down the river and all it seems everyone wants to do to them is poke holes in their canoes and laugh about it. All of these young kids should be treated equally and get the same shot.

  3. Nightcrawler

    I like this idea, as it is privately funded (not extorting money from taxpayers), but I would like to see the Technology Alliance expand this program to include men, or at least set up a separate program for guys. This would be a great way of getting the unemployed, especially the long-term unemployed, back to gainful work.

  4. Female here. I don’t mean to be feminist by any stretch but I think this is great. I’m most likely biased but I’ve been trying to learn to code for some time now. This is extremely exciting and I don’t think they’re trying to go against you but rather encourage ladies to get into coding.
    You can take a look yourself at the ratios. I’ve been in the tech industry as a PM and it’s vastly men, which is awesome, but often I am intimidated by male counter parts and feel as though, just because I am female people expect me to be not as intelligent. Hopefully this isn’t true but I think it’s part of a movement bigger than just coding– it’s trying to encourage the other gender to get out there and feel less excluded from opportunities.

    Again, I may be biased but you can even take a look at all the Dev BootCamps out there and see that most of them enroll guys.

    And, if you do feel discriminated (I was talking to my male friends about reverse discrimination) then perhaps you can start a movement as well.
    @Jeremy– haha, nice.

    • Nightcrawler

      An important thing to note is that this program is not being run by the government, using taxpayer money. It is being run by a non-profit which is funded by voluntary private donations. In that respect, I like this idea; nowhere in the Constitution are private-sector employers granted the right to demand that the government train their employees. I applaud privately-run and -funded job training programs.

      Private companies and organizations should be allowed to discriminate all they want. If you are offended by the policies of a particular company or non-profit, you are free not to donate money/patronize that business. Conversely, you can start your own non-profit (or donate to an existing one) that is more to your liking. Thus, as Alice touched on, if a similar non-profit wanted to open up a male-only school, they should absolutely be permitted to do so. This is how a free market works.

      This is separate from my personal feelings on the subject, which is that I would rather see programs aimed at the unemployed, period, not just women and not just men. But my personal feelings should not be enshrined in law.

      Regarding what another poster said, “everyone” is not a socialist. I am a free marketer. I am against socialism *all the time,* even when it is not convenient for me.

      • Old Vet

        Yes, but anytime men try to even think about doing something for men, we get sued, investigated by the IRS EEOC, and the NLRB for gender bias and sexism. You need to come out of your dream world and face reality.