Can algorithms be sexist? Yes, they can. In fact, they have been.
In 2018, Amazon announced that it had scrapped its AI recruiting tool after news broke that the automated system didn’t like women. You read that right. For four years since its release, the AI engine penalized resumes that mentioned the word “women’s.”
As it turns out, the AI system was trained to analyze resumes submitted to Amazon within the last decade. And because a majority of the applicants were men, it developed a bias against women.
This is just one among many examples of algorithmic bias against women—and most of it can be traced back to the tech industry’s male-dominated workforce.
Time and time again, we hear the phrase, “Representation matters.” While many may see this as a buzzword, it remains a fact in the tech industry. As tech permeates nearly every aspect of our daily lives, it matters who gets a seat at the table and decides how to build and design the technologies we use every day.
The problem is that the tech workforce is still sorely lacking in diversity. According to Deloitte, female representation in global tech firms will reach only 33 percent this year, a meager 2-percent increase from 2019. Clearly, there’s a long way to go before we get gender parity in the industry.
One way to improve these figures is to give women and members of the trans and gender non-conforming community (TGNC) a safe space to start pursuing a career in tech. And tech school CodeOp is doing just that. Created to provide tech skills training to women, transgender, and non-binary people, CodeOp takes on the uphill battle of debugging tech’s “brogrammer” culture.
Read on as we explore CodeOp’s initiatives and how these have propelled two of its alumni to career success.
CodeOp empowers the global community of women, transgender, and non-binary people through digital skills training, free workshops, and robust career services.Try CodeOp’s free coding class.
How CodeOp Supports Women, Trans, and Non-Binary People Globally
Bumble Tech Academy
CodeOp has partnered with Bumble, the women-first social networking app, to offer Bumble Tech Academy, a paid six-month training program designed to train a small cohort of women, trans, and non-binary people and inject them straight into the tech workforce.
Participants receive technical training in full stack development and Android mobile development regardless of their technical experience. After their technical training, they have the opportunity to work full-time at Bumble Barcelona as junior software developers.
Free Coding Workshops
Do you want to learn programming fundamentals but don’t have the resources to commit to quality training?
CodeOp offers free beginner coding workshops so you can work on understanding the building blocks of programming, including HTML and CSS. Workshops run for 1.5 hours and include a lecture, a hands-on activity, and a Q&A session with a CodeOp teaching assistant or instructor to reinforce your understanding of the material.
Value-Driven Employer Network
Beyond technical skills training, CodeOp also helps get your name in front of hiring managers. The tech school boasts an extensive employer network that includes larger companies (for those looking for a more focused role) and startups (for those who want to gain insights into multiple roles).
CodeOp partners with organizations working to improve their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) hiring roadmaps. These companies often contact CodeOp for candidates with the right skillset. CodeOp then shares the job offer with their community and matches the right people with the right jobs.
Spotlighting Women In Tech: CodeOp Alumni Success Stories
To give you a firsthand look at what it’s like to train at CodeOp, we interviewed two of the school’s alumni: Corinna Genchi and Carolina Dorella.
Corinna Genchi’s journey to the tech industry had been anything but linear. After graduating with a political science degree, she worked at an NGO, where she managed a project related to tech education. During this time, her interest in learning tech skills grew, particularly how to code.
“I’ve always been curious about tech,” she shared. “When I tried [CodeOp’s] coding workshop, I liked it. It applied to things I could do because I’m a very logical person. I like problem-solving. I like to be challenged. I also like to have a creative outlet because whether you’re doing front end or backend, it requires creativity.”
Her positive experience with the school’s coding workshop pushed her to fully commit to CodeOp’s Full Stack Development program.
The comfort that CodeOp fostered and its affordability were two reasons why Corinna chose CodeOp. “I wanted to be in a safe space and not have to deal with a 20-something-year-old male who feels he is the king of all programmers,” she shared with a laugh. “CodeOp was a safe space where I could feel comfortable asking questions.”
“I chose CodeOp because of the economic support they offered. I got lucky because they had student financing and Bridge to Tech.” The financing option allowed Corinna to complete her training without paying upfront. In exchange, she has 10 years to pay back the tuition, which only started when she found a job.
What’s It Like to Learn Full Stack Development at CodeOp?
CodeOp succeeded in strengthening Corinna’s grasp of full stack development. “[CodeOp] focuses on building foundations. More importantly, [it sharpened my] ability to see a problem, break it into pieces, and then find the easiest solution…” Corinna said.
CodeOp also armed Corinna with the support necessary to nudge her to the finish line. “There was always somebody you could talk to,” said Corinna. “They did not only offer coaching support…CodeOp understands that you are a person. You are not a number that’s there for profit. They choose to stay human and create lasting relationships, and I always had fun talking with Katrina, the founder of CodeOp.”
Where Is She Now?
Corinna started her job search early in the program and took advantage of all the career support that CodeOp offered. She started attending coaching sessions in her second week and spent the rest of the time polishing her resume and LinkedIn profile and applying to jobs. Less than a month after finishing her program, Corinna received a job offer for a junior front end engineering role at Porsche Digital in Barcelona.
“Some days, I don’t believe I’m actually doing this and getting paid. I’m having fun, and it’s a completely different environment than what I’m used to. Many things are ongoing, and I’m working on a product that we are building from scratch. It’s a very good feeling not to be assigned to a random project and instead feel ownership over what we’re building.”
After 15 years of working in the tourism sector, Carolina Dorella was itching to do something different. “I had been living in Barcelona for about a year, and during that time, I met people working in tech and naturally developed a curiosity about it,” she shared.
“The more I looked into it, the more I realized moving into a tech-related position was the kind of challenge I was looking for. There was so much to explore, and learning would never stop.”
Amid her search for a way to break into tech, Carolina attended a CodeOp meetup focusing on what it’s like for women to transition into the industry. The meetup helped settle her concerns about moving into the male-dominated and “geeky” field. And it also finalized her decision to join CodeOp.
“I realized CodeOp would be a safe space to be myself, a not-so-young woman who did not grow up hooked into video games and tech and came from an unrelated profession,” she shared.
“A few weeks later, I started the Full Stack Web Development course and later took the Product Management course.”
What’s It Like to Learn at CodeOp?
Carolina’s CodeOp experience had its share of challenges and silver linings. For one, her cohort had to shift from in-person to online classes due to COVID-19 restrictions. “Although we all had a bit of a learning curve…it turned out to be a great way to prepare me for my professional life now as a remote worker.”
She also had to find a job in a pandemic-disrupted job market where “there was some resistance towards hiring entry-level and juniors.” But, hand in hand with CodeOp, Carolina managed to optimize her resume and LinkedIn profile, prepare for the technical job interviews, and build her portfolio and professional network.
Five months later, her hard work paid off.
Where Is She Now?
Carolina currently works as a software engineer at Factorial, a Barcelona-based startup that values workplace diversity. “In our engineering department, 30 percent are women, and there is a constant effort to hire more. Besides gender, we have people from all over the world, so several different cultural backgrounds, religions, and races are represented,” she said.
“I know this is not always the case for everyone, but so far, I have not faced any challenges as a woman in the workplace. I feel welcome and respected…I feel valued as a colleague regardless of my gender.”
Carolina also continues to be part of CodeOp’s active and supportive community. “I have made good friends through CodeOp, and it is great to have others with whom I can share my experiences,” she said.
Shake Up the Status Quo
Representation is crucial not just to close the gender gap in tech but also to drive growth and innovation. CodeOp was created to build a pipeline of women, trans, and non-binary tech specialists ready to shake up the status quo in the tech industry.
Want to be part of this global community? Start by trying out CodeOp’s free coding class!
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.