London-based non-profit Code First: Girls, an initiative that works with companies and women to increase the proportion of women in tech, has today launched its Girls 2020 Campaign, which aims to teach 20,000 UK girls and women how to code for free by 2020.
The launch follows news that in the 10 years to 2017, the number of female programmers and software developers in the UK has decreased from 10% to just 3.9% of tech and telco professionals.
The group, which has already taught more than 5,000 women to code, wants to ‘flood the UK with female tech talent’ to give a boost to the UK tech industry, which suffers from a lack of talent; redress gender inequality in tech to encourage diversity of thought and innovation; and encourage future generations of women and girls into science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) fields by providing education and female role models.
To date, Code First: Girls has delivered £2.5 million of free education, and helped companies to recruit better tech talent into their firms. To raise the £1.5 million needed for their 2020 initiative, they have begun seeking corporate partnerships and crowdfunding on Kickstarter.
The group provides courses both at university and professional level (cost-free for those aged 18-23 or less than two years out of education, £665 for professionals); runs Hack Your Career events, which give women connections to people who work in all areas of the tech industry, and hosts an annual conference at Twitter’s London headquarters. It also offers masterclasses on specific areas of tech, such as user experience (UX), and works with companies through collaborations projects, including a recent initiative with Vodafone that taught women in 26 countries how to code.
For more on UK women in tech, read about the female-focused collectives transforming London’s entrepreneurship scene.