International Women’s Day: A guide for tech companies
International Women’s Day is on Saturday, March 8, 2014. As a woman in programming, IWD is especially important to me because it is an opportunity to celebrate other women in the field.
Lots of tech companies host events for International Women’s Day - I went to one at Google last year that had some great talks. However, IWD is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women, not an excuse to throw a PR party for your company.
No matter how pure a company’s intentions may be, their undoubtedly very well funded International Women’s Day event takes attention away from those hosted by national and local community organizations that work to serve women every day of the year.
If your company does not already have an established women’s initiative or group (ex: Passion Projects, Women @ Groupon), don’t try and do your own thing for IWD. It will come off as disingenuous. Yes, you have to start somewhere, but unless you’re launching a new women’s initiative internally, IWD is not a day for you.
There are lots of local organizations and groups whose mission is to support women. Instead of creating an internal event, work with these organizations as a sponsor. You can provide them with the funding, space, and promotional materials that they to create culturally relevant, engaging events on a much larger scale than their budgets allow.
Being a software engineer, much of these recommendations are focused on outreach to women in the engineering community.
- Girl Develop It has 25 chapters in the US and provides affordable classes for women to learn software development and tech.
- Black Girls Code serves many major US cities and focuses on underprivileged girls and women of color.
- Ada Developers Academy is a tuition-free programming school and internship program for women in Seattle, WA.
- Women Who Code is a group based in San Francisco that educates women on software development and tech.
- Girls Who Code is based in New York City and most well known for its free summer immersion program for high school girls offered in several US cities.
- Lesbians Who Tech is a new group with several US chapters that connects queer women and encourages them to join the tech community.
- Chicago Women Developers is local to Chicago, offering classes, hack nights, and events for women in tech.
- RailsBridge manages, creates, and offers free intro to Rails classes using open-source materials.
- RailsGirls is an international group that offers free intro to Rails classes for women.
If you have a suggestion for an organization you would like to see on this list, tweet at me.
Not just for women
While it is International Women’s Day, it’s not just a day for women: it’s a day for celebrating groups who historically have not been appreciated. Celebrations that are inclusive of race, gender identity, sexuality, and able-bodiedness celebrate the idea behind IWD instead of just celebrating women.