It’s Thursday at the PASS Summit so that means it’s time for the Women in Technology Luncheon. As in years past (I’ve lost count of how many), the luncheon is sponsored by SQL Sentry. The SQL Sentry team is here at Summit in full force, and I have Allen White at the blogger’s table with me. But while I’m at it, let me give a shout out to a few members of the SQL Sentry team that have been supportive of not just this event, but of myself and some fellow colleagues. These gentleman have provided feedback, suggestions, and good old fashioned support whenever asked or needed. Thank you Aaron Bertrand, Kevin Kline, Nick Harshbarger, and Greg Gonzalez for all you do for me, my colleagues, and this community.
For those of you at home, you can watch the luncheon live on PASSTV. Finally, if you want more rapid-fire commentary from the luncheon (as I’ll refresh this post every 5-10 minutes), I recommend following Mark Vaillancourt on Twitter (@markvsql).
Today’s luncheon features guest Angie Chang from Hackbright Academy, the VP of Strategic Partnerships, and we start with PASS Board VP of Marketing Denise McInerney welcoming us to today’s lunch (it’s the 13th one).
Angie starts by talking about her path from undergrad to her position today. She started the Girl Geek Dinner chapter in San Francisco, and Hackbright sought her out to help celebrate the first graduating class of Hackbright. Hackbright has graduated around 300 women over the past 3 years, and a few of those women now hold technical management positions. Hackbright was started by some women who attended a coding camp. The group started with an experiment of 12 women, teaching them to code in 10 weeks. Since then they have grown the classes and the curriculum has evolved. Right now teaching Python, and also teach some Java, Angular – they are taught to learn not just the language, but also ask questions. Each engineering fellow has three mentors. There are 100 software engineers who mentor those students for one hour a week. This mentorship helps enhance the experience, and the students also get to visit other technical companies (e.g. Twitter, Dropbox).
Hackbright uses pair programming. The community aspect is important – particularly because it’s an all-women environment. The environment is very casual. The students at Hackbright are very diverse and come from a variety of backgrounds. Hackbright has a high rate of job placements. Angie highlights some graduates of Hackbright who have been promoted to engineer management positions within their company. SurveyMonkey has hired the most “Hackbright’s” of any company and one of the engineers is a manager there now.
Hackbright works with partner companies by inviting them to career day events and the Hackbright graduation. Facebook sponsors a scholarship once a quarter, and Denise’s company, Intuit, also provides a scholarship. Girl Geek Dinner started in London in about 2006, and Angie was working at a startup at that time. Angie started up the Girl Geek Dinner in Mountain View, sponsored by Google – they had 400 people in 5 days. They are booked into 2017 for dinners, with 2-3 per month.
Denise shifts to talking about the pipeline problem. One Hackbright instructor, Rachel Thomas, wrote a post, If you think this is a pipeline issue then you haven’t been paying attention. The article has suggestions for how to improve the pipeline – it’s not about getting women in, it’s about retaining them. Denise asks Angie if she feels retention will be an issue for those graduating from Hackbright – and Angie states that they create a good network for each graduating engineer – their classmates at Hackbright, their mentors, etc. which gives each person a set of resources to turn when they’re struggling.
If you have questions you can come up to the microphone or use the #passwit hashtag on Twitter.
Documentary from Technovation called Codegirl which will stream on YouTube from November 1-5, check out the trailer.
Want to see if you have any unconscious biases? Check out these tests on Harvard’s site.