A few weeks ago, I created and shared a quick survey asking for input on women in tech programs and events in the Bay Area. My goal was:
- To compile a diverse list of events and programs, covering a range of disciplines and areas like design, research, UX, engineering, development, science, leadership, founders & startups, hacking/making and product management.
- To make the resulting list public for all to benefit.
Well the responses are in, the analysis is done and “the list” is complete!
In the post below I share the resulting list, my personal motivation for compiling it, along with details on how I collected the responses and conducted my analysis. Enjoy!
I’ve been living and working in the Bay Area for 2 years now, however I recently came to realize that in that time I haven’t really managed to expand my network, in particular when it comes to meeting new, talented female researchers, designers, engineers, makers, entrepreneurs, etc.
And it feels like if there’s one place in the world I should be able to easily connect with inspiring women in tech it’s here in the Bay Area! So a few weeks ago I made a decision...
I will connect with, learn from and exchange experiences with more women working in tech in the valley.
Why? Well, for a few reasons.
- Mentorship is something I believe is very important regardless of what stage or level you’re at in your career. And I feel that this is something that’s lacking somewhat in my life at the moment. In particular, I’d like to be able to connect with more female mentors. I still have a lot to learn and I’m sure there are plenty of women in the Bay area who have a lot to share. So it’s time to connect!
- I’m at a stage in my own career where I’ve accumulated quite a few years experience so I’d like to reach out, volunteer and get more involved in the community here. I’d like to share some of the knowledge, skills and experience that I’ve accumulated over the past 11+ years. I’ve worked for a number of big tech companies (Yahoo, Telefonica, Google) in a number of cities across the world (Barcelona, London, Dublin and now here). I’ve built websites, apps & prototypes; taught coding; designed & deployed lots of user studies; given tutorials on conducting mobile research; conducted a range of large-scale analytics; worked with various product teams; published scientific papers; presented to large audiences; mentored interns and most recently managed teams. Maybe other women would find some of those experiences interesting or useful?
- Last but by no means least, I’m about to embark on my next big adventure — Motherhood. And it just so happens that I’m having a little girl. Like any parent — technically soon-to-be parent — I’d like to teach her that she can do anything she puts her mind to, including but not limited to being a Mother, having a career she loves and enjoying life to the full (if she chooses that she even wants those things!). So I’d like to connect with other women in similar situations, in particular women who have managed to strike a balance between being a Mother, kicking A** in the tech world and enjoying life.
As a starting point to engaging with more women working in tech, I decided to try to compile a diverse list of mentorship programs and events for women in tech in the Bay Area so I could get a sense of what’s out there. The obvious next step would be to get involved with some of those programs. But my first step was to generate “the list”.
Tapping into the Wisdom of the Crowd
When I started to do a little research of my own into what events and programs were available to women in the Bay Area, I found that many of the events were targeted exclusively at coders and most were scattered across the Web. So I decided to do a little crowdsourcing.
I created a simple, quick survey in which I asked respondents basic information including:
- their current job and company,
- a list of mentorship programs & events in the Bay Area that they are aware of,
- more subjective information about what they feel is missing or lacking from the current women in tech events that the Bay Area has to offer.
I shared the survey within my own social circles on LinkedIn, Twitter & Facebook as well as within my current company, Yahoo.
I reached out directly to friends and colleagues working in various companies and universities around the Bay Area to see if they might circulate the survey and in some cases introduce me to other women working in tech to help me in my quest.
I pinged well-known founders, angel investors, female leaders and amazing women who’ve setup some of the programs in the resulting list to get their input / thoughts. Some of them responded. Some of them spread the word!
I also directly pinged some of the larger organizations listed to ask for their input and again, some of them helped by circulating the survey.
While progress was slow to start, the pace quickly picked up and I soon found myself with plenty of data to analyze. The survey was first released on 25th June 2015. I analyzed data up until 1st August 2015. During that time 50 people filled in the survey and an additional 9 people provided direct input outside of the survey by providing their suggestions via Twitter and email. These 59 people suggested 102 unique programs and events (average: 3.8 suggestions per person). These 102 events were later filtered to 81.
Overall my first thoughts were, wow, there’s a lot happening in the Bay Area for women in tech!
Data Analysis, a.k.a the Science Bit :)
I wrote some Java code to process the survey responses which I converted from Google sheets/forms to Excel format — yes maybe python would have been quicker, but Java is and will always be my first love! I loaded all the Excel data into a MySQL database and filtered the responses, specifically merging events or programs that were written or spelt differently but were in fact referring to the same program or event.
I manually cross-checked each suggested event to ensure that:
- the event / program actually exists;
- if it was a local chapter / series, that it was available in the Bay Area;
- it was relevant to the overall goals of the crowdsourcing effort;
- and finally that it was open to the public — some events / programs are arranged by a specific company and are only for company employees.
At the same time I gathered additional information for each event including website/meetup pages, twitter accounts and a general description.
In some cases people suggested an organization or non-profit who organizes events and programs. In other cases specific events or meetups were suggested. The suggestion was included “as is” as long as it met the criteria outlined above.
Likewise some respondents suggested online programs and tools. Again I included them as long as the program / tool was open and information was available online.
Where available, I flagged each event as something that was designed explicitly for women (or people who identified as female) or whether the event was open to men as well. In some cases this information wasn’t available or completely clear.
Finally, in addition to extracting the unique set of events, I consolidated all the subjective responses about what’s missing from current programs and events by using thematic analysis / affinity diagraming to group the responses into a set of key themes. I’ll write a follow-up post on these themes.
After filtering & analysis, the final compiled list includes a total of 81 programs, events & organizations.
(Ta Da) The List!
A few points to note:
- The list includes more than just events and programs. It also includes organizations, meetups, scholarships, awards, conferences and online resources.
- While the final list may not be complete, I tried. If something is missing feel free to reach out to me.
- I’m not marketing / selling / vouching for any of the events listed. In fact, I’m learning about most of these for the first time. While I certainly plan on participating and attending as many as I can, for now, I’ve no input or opinion on the value of the events and programs in the list.
- Most of the descriptions below have been taken straight (i.e. copy/paste) from the websites of the program or organization in question :-)
If you’d like to follow any of these events/programs/organizations, I’ve put together a Twitter list.
- Ada Initiative (SHUTTING DOWN IN OCT 2015): A non-profit organization that supports women in open technology and culture through activities such as producing codes of conduct and anti-harassment policies, advocating for gender diversity and teaching ally skills. Most of what they create is freely available, reusable, and modifiable under Creative Commons licenses. They provide a number of events and workshops. They have one upcoming event on Fighting Impostor Syndrome in Oakland, CA.
- Anita Borg Institute: Founded by Dr. Anita Borg in 1994 as the Institute for Women in Technology, and renamed in her honor in 2003, the Anita Borg Institute is on a mission to increase the impact of women on all aspects of technology and to increase the positive impact of technology on the world’s women. They provide a range of programs, communities and events designed to connect, inspire and guide women in computing.
- AspireIT: A program provided by the NCWIT community (National Center for Women & Information Technology) that connects high school and college women with K-12 girls interested in computing. Using a near-peer model, program leaders teach younger girls fundamentals in programming and computational thinking in fun, creative environments that are supported by program partners from the NCWIT community. They aim to foster mentoring with technical professionals, increase young women’s confidence in their computing abilities, and develop valuable leadership skills. Applications for next years programs open in November so reach out to the NCWIT if interested in getting involved.
- AWIS - Association for women in Science: AWIS is an organization that champions the interests of women in science, technology engineering, and mathematics (STEM) across all disciplines and employment sections. They aim to break down barriers and create opportunities through a series of programs including advocacy, public engagement, leadership & talent development, local chapters and events as well as volunteering and mentoring programs. Membership in a local chapter provides members with hands-on opportunities to network, participate in educational programs, and enjoy community outreach initiatives. They are always looking for volunteers to serve as mentors, speakers, writers, etc. There are multiple chapters in the Bay Area including one in Palo Alto.
- Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners: Girl Geek Dinners is a community that holds dinner events for women working in technology and helps them find inspiration and mentorship through networking, social events and inspiring talks by influential female speakers. The dinners are sponsored by a tech company. Google hosted the first Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner back in January 2008 and today, Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners have been hosted by a diverse set of companies. This community is very active and appears to host regular events.
- Black Founders: Not for women only, Black Founders is an organization that was started in 2011 with the aim of empowering entrepreneurs and providing founders with access to advice, mentorship, and funding. Their missions is to “is to increase the number of successful black entrepreneurs in technology”. They host networking and educational events in San Francisco and they have a new mentorship program starting soon.
- Black Girls Code: Black Girls Code aims to “increase the number of women of color in the digital space by empowering girls of color ages 7 to 17 to become innovators in STEM fields, leaders in their communities, and builders of their own futures through exposure to computer science and technology.” They have a range of classes, summer camps and hack events, in a number of locations including San Francisco/Bay Area. They have lots of volunteer opportunities and you can help in a variety of ways (e.g. leading a class, mentoring students, research, helping spread the word, etc). So a great opportunity to help the next superstars in tech!
- Bloc: An online programming bootcamp covering mobile development, web development and design / UX courses. They offer some nice mentorship too by pairing you up with a mentor online to help you meet your goals. This community is open to both men and women.
- Cascade SF: Not female specific. Cascade SF is a community of designers (over 6K) who host an event called UX Night and offer mentoring sessions to people in the design / UX space. According to their website, they have hosted 2,200 mentoring sessions with the best designers in tech in the past year and their mentorship events offer feedback, career advice and guidance.
- Change the Equation: An organization that works at “the intersection of business and education to ensure that all students are STEM literate by collaborating with schools, communities, and states to adopt and implement excellent STEM policies and programs”. They work all over the United States and are more focused on getting companies involved rather than individuals, but if you’re interested in getting more young people (boys and girls) in general involved in STEM, this organization might be a useful point of contact.
- Code.org: A non-profit launched in 2013 with the mission of expanding access to computer science, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. Their vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science. There are lots of ways in which you can get involved and help out. For example, hosting an Hour of Code (a one-hour introductory course designed to demystify computer science and show that anybody can learn the basics).
- CodeChix Bay Area: CodeChix is a non-profit organization dedicated to the “Education, Advocacy and Mentoring, of women engineers in industry and academia”. Their aim is to increase the number of women engineers in industry through various technical and mentoring/networking programs. They host and conduct events, arrange team competitions, develop open-source projects and actively network. CodeChix offers a number of local chapters, one of which is in the Bay Area.
- Codess: Codess is a community for female coders initiated by Microsoft. It was established to explore ways to promote gender diversity in the engineering field. They deliver a series of worldwide events and workshops from academia through to the executive level and have hosted events in San Francisco in the past.
- Commonwealth Club: The Commonwealth Club of California is the nation’s oldest and largest public affairs forum. It brings more than 400 annual events on topics ranging across politics, culture, society and the economy to more than 20,000 members. The Club has offices in San Francisco and San Jose, with regular events in both cities. While not explicitly targeting women in tech they have had events focused on women in tech in the past. See their events page for more details.
- Dare 2B Digital: Their mission is to re-define the image of Computer Science (CS) / STEM and to increase digital fluency of young women through student engagement and mentoring. They host a yearly conference which aims to inspire young women (grades 7–10) to explore CS/STEM careers through hands-on fun. Their next conference is being held on the 27th Feb 2016 in San Jose, CA.
- Data-driven Women (Brightroll): Data Driven Women is a networking series and speaker event that brings together women (& men) passionate about building a stronger female tech community. According to them “our name doesn’t come from a desire to discuss only data, but rather from a data driven approach that allows us to bring metrics and measurement to different topics like: innovation, entrepreneurship and technology”. They aim to meet every month in Brightrolls office in downtown San Francisco.
- Designers + Geeks: Not for women only, this is a community for designers, thinkers, and makers with monthly meetings in San Francisco, New York, LA, and Boston. Their events feature talks from experts on design, technology, startups, and “all manner of geekery”. You can sign up to their newsletter to keep up to date on upcoming events.
- Double Union: Double Union is a hacker/maker space for women in San Francisco. Their mission is to create a community workshop where women can work on projects in a comfortable, welcoming environment. Double Union pride themselves as being a feminist space open to intersectional feminists, women-centered, and queer and trans-inclusive. Their space enables members to work on things including sewing, programming, electronics, woodworking, fiber arts of all kinds, and zine making. Located in the Mission district in San Francisco, they offer Classes, Open Houses and Events. Most of their events are for members only and members join through an application and voting process.
- Ellevate: Ellevate is a community or network of successful, motivated and passionate professional women from various industries and walks of life with one common belief “that investing in themselves and in other women is good business”. Ellevate enables women to connect and learn from each other through local chapters, “Jam Sessions” (twice weekly webinars), member articles, as well as podcasts and videos. They have a chapter in Silicon Valley and membership is offered annually at various levels for a fee.
- Femgineers: An education company working on advancing women working in tech towards leadership and entrepreneurship. It started in 2007 as a blog to combine a passion for engineering and writing. They offer talks, mini-courses as well as more structured learning courses online. They also host Femgineer Forum, a monthly event series held in the San Francisco Bay Area. These forums tend to comprise of a short talk followed by a breakout session, enabling attendees to network and learn from one another. Their events are announced on their meetup page. They also have a YouTube channel.
- FOSS Outreach Program (OPW) a.k.a. Outreachy: The FOSS Outreach Program for Women (OPW) helps women (cis and trans), trans men, and genderqueer people get involved in free and open source software. They provide a community and offer focused internship opportunities twice a year with a number of free software organizations. The program was recently succeeded by a new program called Outreachy which will continue along the same lines, except now the goal is to include more participants from underrepresented backgrounds. The next round of Outreachy internships open applications in early September with an application deadline in mid-October. Coding, design, documentation and other projects are available and accepted participants work remotely while being guided by a mentor.
- Founders Network: Not for women only, this is a peer mentorship program for founders. Members are tech founders who are working on a startup or are serial entrepreneurs with past success. According to their website, their Founders Network Online Mentorship Platform offers founder perspectives and searchable archives, access to peer advisory boards and opportunities to meet with investors.
- General Assembly: Not for women only, General Assembly (GA) offers both online and on-campus classes, courses and workshops in topics including Web Development, Product Management, Data Science, Analytics, Design and User Experience (to name just a few). They also offer various ways to meet and engage with their company through info sessions, meetups, demo nights, and hackathons. One of the locations in which they offer on-campus classes is in San Francisco.
- Girl Develop It: Girl Develop It is a nonprofit organization that exists to provide affordable and judgment-free opportunities for women interested in learning web and software development. Through in-person classes and community support, Girl Develop It helps women of diverse backgrounds achieve their technology goals and build confidence in their careers and their everyday lives. They are now in 50 cities in the US including San Francisco and San Jose. You can learn about upcoming events on their local meetup pages, e.g. San Francisco, San Jose.
- Girl Talk Event (Year Up Bay Area): Year Up Bay Area is a one-year, intensive training program that provides low-income young adults, ages 18–24, with a combination of hands-on skill development, college credits, and corporate internships. They organize an event called Girl Talk, which aims to be a fun evening of intergenerational networking designed to inspire young women to pursue careers in technology. The evening promises mingling, a career panel and the opportunity for young women to apply to their Year Up program.
- Girls in Tech: A global non-profit focused on the engagement, education and empowerment of women in technology and entrepreneurship. They focus on the promotion, growth and success of entrepreneurial and innovative women in the technology space. They arrange a series of programs and events including hackathons, lady pitch nights, online courses, a Catalyst Conference, an Entrepreneur Labs Program as well as mentorship programs. They operate via local chapters and events, one of which is in San Francisco, where Girls in Tech is headquartered. They also have almost 6000 members in their Facebook group.
- Girls Teaching Girls To Code: A program where Stanford women teach and inspire Bay Area high school girls to explore Computer Science and Engineering. Students learn coding basics, build projects, and develop strong relationships with mentors in the field. They host an annual Code Camp which aims to introduce 200 high school girls to computer science with the help of over 40 Stanford mentors. They also host several smaller events throughout the year, including workshops, puzzle hunts, and company tours.
- Girls Who Code (GWC): A non-profit that encourages girls to venture into technology roles and technical professions. They have a range of programs to inspire, educate, and equip girls with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities. GWC is headquartered in NYC but they have a range of local clubes. Plus they offer a 7-week summer immersion program covering intensive instruction in computer science, robotics, algorithms, web design, and mobile development. The program also includes exposure to advise and mentorship from female engineers and entrepreneurs. This summer program is offered in 4 locations in the Bay Area: Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Jose and San Francisco.
- Glassbreakers: A peer mentorship site for professional women. Their mission is “to empower women to break the glass ceiling, together”. During signup you provide information on your interests, skills, location, goals and LinkedIn data. This is then used to find matching mentors. According to Glassbreakers they also provide “curated content tailored by industry, the ability to engage in online discussions and a premium service to further mentorship goals.” All applications are reviewed.
- Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship: Designed to encourage women to excel in computing and technology and become active role models and leaders in the field. Recipients receive a financial award for the academic year. A group of female undergraduate and graduate students are chosen from an applicant pool, and scholarships are awarded based on the strength of each candidate’s academic background and demonstrated leadership. In addition, all scholarship recipients and finalists are invited to attend a retreat at Google which includes workshops, speakers, panelists, breakout sessions and social activities scheduled over a couple of days.
- Google’s Women Techmakers: A global program and event series led by a team of Googlers who are passionate about empowering women in technology through increased visibility, community, and resources. They organize a range of events throughout the year, however, in the month of March in particular you’ll find a series of summits and meetups to celebrate International Women’s Day. These events offer opportunities for discussions with thought leaders, technical workshops, design sprints, networking opportunities, and more.
- Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC): A series of conferences designed to bring the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront. It’s organized by the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology and the Association for Computing Machinery. It consists of a combination of technical sessions, career sessions, a poster session, career fair and awards ceremony (and lots more!). The 2015 conference will take place on Wednesday, October 14th through Friday, October 16th in Houston, Texas.
- Hackbright Academy: A software engineering school for women founded in San Francisco in 2012. They offer both full and part time programs in areas like front-end and full stack web development. They also offer the opportunity to mentor and volunteer. Mentors are asked to dedicate at least one hour per week to their mentee for two months.
- HealthTech Women: A professional organization that brings together women across the healthcare industry sectors to learn about new technologies. They promote women speakers, offer a global network, and the ability to connect with mentors. Their members work within biotech, pharma, medical devices, life sciences, health technology, and the technology sectors that intersect those spaces. They have two chapters, one in San Francisco and one in London.
- HP Helion OpenStack Scholarship: A special program for college women pursuing a career in technology. This HP program awards four female candidates a scholarship of $10,000 USD each, plus mentorship and potential internship possibilities in the future. All women who are enrolled full time in an information systems or computer science (or equivalent) major course of study and capable of developing a project using OpenStack technology and/or Cloud Foundry are eligible. Next application deadline is 10 p.m. PDT on September 30, 2015.
- Institute for Women in Trades, Technology & Science’s (IWITTS): An organization that helps educators nationwide close the gender gap for women and girls in male-dominated careers, such as technology, the trades and law enforcement. They offer paid online bootcamps and classes aimed at women in tech educators, along with various projects that try to increase the number of females enrolled and retained in technology programs in community colleges.
- Lean in Circles: Lean In Circles are small groups who meet regularly to learn and grow together. Circles are as unique as the individuals who start them, but they all share a common bond: the power of peer support. You can search for a circle near where you live or start your own circle via the Lean in circles website.
- Lean UX Meetup: Not for women only, this meetup arranges networking events and labs to learn about the art of Lean UX.
- Lesbians Who Tech: According to their website, Lesbians in Tech is a “Community of Queer Women in or around tech (and the people who love them)”. They aim to enable lesbians in tech to be more visible to each other, to be more visible to others, to get more women and lesbians working in technology and to connect lesbians to LGBTQ and other women’s organizations who are doing great work for the community. They have two chapters in the Bay Area, one in San Francisco and one in Silicon Valley and they host a regular “Lesbians Who Tech (and Friends) Happy Hour”.
- Levo League: An online tool / network which “arms you with the tools to develop your talent, build connections with peers, mentors, and jobs, and stay inspired day in and day out as you grow and develop”. They offer videos, guides, articles and a mentoring program.
- LinuxChix: A women-oriented Linux community designed to provide both technical and social support for women Linux users, although men are encouraged to help and contribute. They have a chapter (or anit-chapter as they call it) in Silicon Vally. “We’re the anti-chapter because none of our members will admit to having the time to be a chapter head, or to organize monthly meetings.”
- Microsoft Research Women’s Fellowship Program: Provides funding to a select list of academic universities that each award a US$20,000 fellowship to one woman who is interested in pursuing a PhD and in need of financial assistance. In addition, Microsoft Research creates opportunities for each fellowship recipient to engage with Microsoft researchers in their domain of study and connect with each other in a collaborative community. In the Bay Area, Stanford University and University of California at Berkeley are eligible universities.
- Made with Code: According to their website, “Less than 1% of girls study Computer Science.” And the Made with Code initiative provided by Google aims to change that. Their goal is to excite girls about what they can create with code, at an age when they are most likely to start abandoning STEM subjects in school. This involves teaching them what code can do and what code can build that they might not have thought of. The Made with Code website includes a range of projects, resources, tools and they also host local coding events.
- MotherCoders: MotherCoders is a non-profit that “helps moms on-ramp to careers in technology”. They offer a tech orientation program that provides on-site childcare for mothers who want to learn basic computer programming, gain a deeper understanding of the technology landscape, and network with peers and industry professionals. Their aim is to “expand the tech talent pool by activating moms who can help drive economic growth and innovation”. Classes take place on Saturdays over 8 weeks and are provided by industry experts who volunteer as guest speakers, lecturers, and web development and design coaches. Reach out to them directly if interested in being a guest speaker.
- NAPW — National Association of Professional Women: NAPW is one of America’s largest networking organizations for women. While it doesn’t focus solely on the tech sector, it does provide professional networking and career services as well as a series of networking events. There are many local chapters / groups throughout the Bay Area including San Francisco, San Mateo, Oakland, Walnut Creek, San Jose and Palo Alto. You need to be a member to access the various events and resources online. Initial membership is complimentary and there are varying levels of membership offered for some fees.
- NCWIT — National Center for Women & Information Technology: A non-profit community of more than 600 universities, companies, non-profits, and government organizations working to increase women’s participation in computing and technology. NCWIT have a number of programs, campaigns and awards to improve the visibility of women in computing, encourage high school girls to pursue a computing career, as well as shine a spotlight on the successes of entrepreneurial women.
- Palantir Scholarships for Women in Engineering: Designed to support and celebrate women pursuing technical study and beginning careers in technology. Undergraduate women who have completed at least one full academic year by Spring 2016 and can demonstrate a strong focus in computer science or a STEM field are encouraged to apply. Finalists visit Palantir headquarters in Palo Alto for a full-day workshop with women at Palantir to experience their work, culture, and the Bay Area. All finalists receive a grant, ranging from $1,500 to $10,000, to support their studies, and select finalists will complete a Palantir internship in either Summer or Fall 2016. Application deadline is Aug 31st 2015.
- Professional Business Women of California (PBWC): PBWC provides skill development and networking opportunities as well as the inspiration and motivation to encourage women at all levels to achieve their ambitions and work toward gender equity in professional settings. They host a conference every year and offer a series of events and programs including a Young Women’s Summit as well as lots of webinars. Membership costs from $149 per year.
- PyLadies: PyLadies is an international mentorship group with a focus on helping more women become active participants and leaders in the Python open-source community. They operate all over the world and have an SF Bay Area chapter. You can keep up with what’s going in the PyLadies community via their announcement list. Their SF meetup offers study groups, coffee and coding sessions, project nights, etc.
- Rails Girls: Rails Girls give tools and a community for women to understand technology and to build their ideas. They aim to do this by providing a great experience on building things and by making technology more approachable. They offer classes and events in sketching, prototyping, basic programming and general introductions to the world of technology. This non-profit volunteer community was born in Finland, but it now has local events all over the world. They have previously hosted events in SF.
- RailsBridge: RailsBridge organize free workshops to get started or level up with Rails, Ruby, and other web technologies. Their events focus on increasing diversity in tech, so that people of all backgrounds can feel welcome and comfortable in the industry. They organize a series of workshops and classes in San Francisco as well as in Silicon Valley. You can see many of their events here.
- RedHat Women in Open Source Award: This award aims to recognize the contributions that women are making and inspire a new generation to join the open source movement. Nominees who have contributed to open source projects are narrowed to a pool of finalists by employees of Red Hat. The first set of award recipients, determined by a public, vote were announced at the 2015 Red Hat Summit in Boston in June.
- Russian Speaking Women in Tech: A group that aims to provide a professional and inspirational networking platform for Russian-Speaking Women in Tech in Silicon Valley. The club is for Russian Speaking ladies who are employed in the tech industry or searching for a tech job; approaching a career in the tech or considering education in the field; not necessarily techies, but working in the high tech company; are in IT, QA, Programmers, etc but not necessary in the high tech company. They host a range of networking events with guest speakers which are publicized on their eventbrite page.
- SheSays: A global creative network and organization running free mentorship and events to women in the creative and marketing businesses. They offer courses, career management and a collaboration platform called shout. Founded in the UK, they have chapters in 21 cities across the world with one in San Francisco (not sure how active this community is but if interested in Design, UI or UX this could be useful to check out).
- She’s Geeky: Described as “the unConference for women geeks of all kinds to share, connect, network, learn, inspire and have lots of fun”. They invite women working in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) to gather and connect. Their next event is in Salt Lake City but they’ve hosted two previous conferences in the Bay Area.
- she++: Aims to “dismantle the untrue stereotype that computer science is not a career for women”. They work with the technology industry to create a culture that is more appealing to women. It was founded in January 2012 as Stanford’s first conference on women in technology. Since then she++ has expanded to a number of initiatives including the she++ Documentary, the #include Fellowship Program for high school students, the she++ College Ambassador Program, and a series of online campaigns called Reshape Tech. They also host a she++ gala.
- SlideRule: An online learning website and mentorship platform that “helps you learn job-skills online by curating the web’s best learning content, and connecting with expert mentors and a vibrant student community”. They offer a range of online courses, learning paths and mentorship in topics like data science and UX. Students pay a monthly membership and “learn at their own pace”.
- Society of Women Engineers: An organization that gives women engineers a unique place and voice within the engineering industry. They offer a series of events, awards and scholarship programs. They have a network of over 30K women (you can join via their Facebook page) and a number of professional sections in California, including in SF / Bay Area.
- Stanford WiCS — Stanford Women in Computer Science (WiCS) is a student organization at Stanford University. Their mission is to promote and support the growing community of women in CS and technology. They offer mentorship programs and arrange lots of events including hackathons, networking workshops, and speaker series as well as casual dinners and dessert nights. They also collaborate with industry professionals to develop and host their events.
- STEMinist: Aggregates and features stories about women in Science, Tech, Engineering and Math (STEM). Their hope is to increase the visibility of women in STEM, promote and elevate the perspective of women in these traditionally underrepresented fields, encourage younger women and girls to pursue careers in STEM and capture a social media snapshot of what’s trending for women in STEM. You can find them on the web, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
- SVRobo Women in Robotics: A working group for Women in Robotics which is part of Silicon Valley Robotics, a professional association representing the robotics cluster of northern California. According to their website the Women’s working group organize events however, I couldn’t find a huge amount of info online. They do have a google groups page which you have to be a member of to see content.
- Systers: A very active forum from Anita Borg for all women involved in the technical aspects of computing. The community has over 5,500 members from at least 60 countries around the world. You have to signup to this private email forum to participate.
- Tech LadyMafia: Tech LadyMafia (TLM) supports women who work in and around the internet. They are astrophysicists and developers, writers and digital strategists who believe in very inclusive definitions of the words “women” and “ladies”. TLM is open to anyone who identifies as a woman and their network is global. They have a series of mailing lists on TechLadyMafia.com, and those interested can also apply for membership. Once you become a member, you’re instantly connected to a network of women in tech who serve as confidantes, event planners, resources and inspiration.
- Tech Liminal: Not only for women, Tech Liminal is an accessible, technology-focused community space where diverse minds congregate to learn the right tools to solve the right problems in Oakland, CA. Tech Liminal features professional development groups focused on areas such as Programming, WordPress, Video, SEO, Online Marketing, Business Model and Product Management as well as workshops that allow people to explore technology in the context of pure learning, such as Workshop Weekend: Arduino and STEAM Camp. They have a busy calendar of events every week and are very active as a community.
- Tech in Motion: Tech in Motion is a national event series for men and women which started with the goal of bringing local tech communities together to meet, learn, and innovate. They host events in a range of cities across the US including San Francisco and Silicon Valley. They have over 40,000 members and have featured some of the most innovative thought leaders in the technology world. They tend to host to range of mixer events which attract a“crowd of entrepreneurs, CTOs, CEOs, IT professionals and tech aficionados.” They are hosting a big mixer event at The Yard at Mission Rock in San Francisco on 20h August 2015.
- Technovation: Technovation challenges girls all over the world to build a mobile app that will address a community problem. Since 2010, over 3,000 girls from 28 countries have submitted to Technovation. Girls do not need to have programming experience to participate, and Technovation is free for any girl who wants to participate. Their success in changing girls’ attitudes about technology and entrepreneurship relies on local volunteers. Volunteer coaches recruit teams of girls to work with female mentors. Together, they come up with an app idea, conduct user research, create a business plan, and build the app prototype. Leaders from the technology and business sectors judge the submissions and provide feedback to the teams. See their website for more details.
- Techwomen: An organization that empowers, connects, and supports the next generation of women leaders in STEM from Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East by providing them the access and opportunity needed to advance their careers. TechWomen does this through mentorship and exchange as well as exposing participants to female role models. TechWomen seek two types of mentors: Professional Mentors and Cultural Mentors. Professional Mentors coach an Emerging Leader on a mutually beneficial project at the Mentor’s company. Cultural Mentors assist the Emerging Leaders in discovering and understanding the rich traditions, values and diversity of the United States. While mentor applications recently closed for 2015, if mentoring is something you’re interested in trying, TechWomen is an organization to check out.
- The Connectory: The Connectory offers a comprehensive collection of STEM opportunities and programs. It’s a go to place for families to discover local STEM opportunities for the children in their lives and for program providers to find partners with which to collaborate. As a provider you can signup and showcase your programs and events. As a parent or interested party you can search their database of STEM events by location, all of which targeted for young people. If you’re interested in getting involved with tech related events for young people, The Connectory looks like a great resource. While focused on STEM they also list events related to Arts, Humanities, DIY, etc.
- Tools for Change: Started by Mary Ann Mason, UC Berkeley and Joan C. Williams, UC Hastings after engaging in more than 20 years of original research to determine when and why women drop out of the pipeline and to develop tools to help universities retain women scientists. They offer a series of short visual presentations and workshops for women in STEM. These workshops review all they have learned about what works and what doesn’t in creating a workplace that doesn’t push women out of the STEM pipeline.
- Walmart eCommerce Women-in-Tech Events: Walmart eCommerce sometimes host tech events and they have an upcoming event in August 2015 for women in tech. The event “Navigating Your Career as a Woman in Technology” will take place in Sunnyvale and involves speakers and panelists discussing things like empowering women to ask for what they want with confidence and negotiating for yourself in a way you would for others.
- WEPAN: Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN) is a national not-for-profit organization with over 700 members from engineering schools, small businesses, Fortune 500 corporations, and non-profit organizations. They work to transform culture in engineering education to attract, retain, and graduate women. They offer Professional Development Webinars, college programs and access to a network of experts via their membership (paid). They also maintain a second website called the Women in STEM Knowledge Center (WSKC) which enables people all over the world to find up-to-date research, findings, and statistics about women in STEM.
- West Mentors: WEST (Women Entering and Staying in Tech) is designed to enable 1:1 mentorship for women in the early-to-middle stages of their technology careers. They believe that “by providing more direct support, advocacy, and community development, we can help more women build rewarding careers in technology.” This initiative is just getting started but according to their website, women in technical roles from Facebook, Box, and Pinterest will serve as 1:1 mentors to women in the early to middle-stages of their careers. The program will incorporate 1:1 and group interactions, in person and online, over the course of a year. It’s open to women in the Bay Area in technical roles like Engineering, Operations, Product, Design, and Web Development.
- WHOMentors: is an organization that encourages volunteering in general and they have a number of projects aimed at helping women in tech. Based on info from their CEO, they offer free tech training for women. They have a program called Objective-S/he which is a documentary about women in tech and finally a program called TeenDevelopreneur aimed at helping Teen Girls 13–19 to learn app development.
- Women 2.0: The world’s largest community-driven media brand designed for the next generation of technology leaders. Women 2.0 creates content, community and events for aspiring and current innovators in technology. One of their events is the Women 2.0 City Meetup, a community-driven networking event held in 20 cities globally. City Meetup aims to connect, inspire and advance authentic relationships in the technology ecosystem and is inclusive of founders, executives, employees, investors, engineers, designers, business/marketing professionals, etc. They have a meetup in San Francisco and in Silicon Valley.
- Women in Games: Women in Games International (WIGI) is made up of both female and male professionals, working to promote the inclusion and advancement of women in the global games industry. WIGI promotes diversity in video game development, publishing, media, education and workplaces, based on a fundamental belief that increased equality and camaraderie among genders can make global impacts for superior products, more consumer enjoyment and a stronger gaming industry. They host a number of events and local chapters, one of which is in San Francisco. And their Facebook page looks very active.
- Women in Technology International (WITI): A global network of smart, talented women and a market reach exceeding 2 million, WITI (Women in Technology International) offers a range of programs to provide connections, resources and opportunities to women in the technology section. They have regional networks, job postings, conferences/summits and events, etc. They offered paid membership and they have a very active Facebook page.
- Women of Impact Conference: The Cisco Women of Impact Conference event was hosted in March 2015 and is devoted to the development and advancement of women in technology. It was organized by Cisco Empowered Women’s Network, a forum for women in IT to network, motivate, and empower each other through energizing and engaging events held during Cisco Live and sustained through ongoing events throughout the year. You can keep up with Cisco Empowered Women’s Networking via their facebook page.
- Women Who Code (WWCode): A non-profit dedicated to inspiring women to excel in technology careers. They aim to connect amazing women with other like minded amazing women around the globe who unite under one simple notion — “the world of technology is much better with women in it”. To date, their organization has executed more than 1,200 free technical events around the world, garnered a membership exceeding 25,000, and has a presence in 15 countries. They have networks and meetups in San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
- Women Who Tech: Aims to bring together talented and renowned women breaking new ground in technology. They host TeleSummits packed with some great discussions led by amazing females from the startup world. Their 2015 TeleSummit videos are available on their website. They also have a Women Startup Challenge open to women in the US. Finally they are building a database of women-led startups to help connect the dots to introduce women startups to investors. You can sign up to get your startup listed in the database.
- Write/Speak/Code: An organization on a mission to empower women software developers to become thought leaders, conference speakers, and open source contributors. They run conferences and events across the US with a local chapter in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Their monthly meetups give women (and anyone who identifies as a women) opportunities to give lightning talks, write talks and proposals, get feedback and contribute to open source.
- XX+UX: The Women (XX) in User Experience (UX) Happy Hour is a community / meetup originally started by Google in the Bay Area but has now expanded and is hosted in a number of cities across the world including Paris, New York, London and Sydney. This monthly meetup for women in UX aims to foster greater diversity in the field. They also have a very active Google+ community where you can connect and engage with other women working in and interested in the UX space.
Additions / Suggestions
When I originally published “the list”, I welcomed additions / suggestions for events that I missed out on in my original crowdsourcing effort. This section include additional events / programs recommended by folks who have contacted me directly since publishing the article. These brings us almost 90 events/programs/organizations!!
Note +(added 10th Sept 2015), *** (added 7th March 2016)
- +AirBnBNerds Taking Flight: An evening event series for women in engineering brought to you by AirBnB. They have held a number of events centered around women in engineering with presentations and discussions exploring everything from how to build your network, lightning talks on data science as well as evenings with inspiring women from the tech scene talking about their experiences. Their next event is in October 2015 so watch their new events page for updates/details.
- +Bay Area Women in Machine Learning & Data Science Meetup: A meetup group for women (inclusive of anyone who identifies as female) interested in Machine Learning and Data Science. Their aim is to meet to socialize and to discuss machine learning and data science in an informal setting with the purpose of building a community around women in these fields. They host periodic events every couple of months throughout the Bay Area.
- +Creative Mornings SF: A breakfast lecture series for those (both men and women) interested in / working in / part of the creative community. Their offer a free monthly event comprised of a short talk / lecture over breakfast. This event operates in a wealth of cities across the world and there is a local chapter in San Francisco. Apart from events, you can also find some recent video uploads on their website.
- +Leading Women in Technology: A non-profit organization “dedicated to unlocking the potential of professionals who advise technology businesses”. Their vision is to promote the advancement of women in the technology industry by empowering women to become the best versions of themselves. They host a wealth of regular events. For example some of their upcoming events in September include excelling in a non technical role at a tech company, becoming an effective communicator as well as resume writing/job searching. Most of their events include some networking opportunities and they take place across the Bay Area.
- +UX Eye: A UX Group open to both men and women whose purpose “is to help the User Experience community talk to who needs us, help you network and find new gigs with some exciting startup that need some UX love and care.” They arrange a number of events, in San Francisco in particular. You can find additional info on their meetup page.
- +Women Catalysts: An organization and event series which aims to inspire more women to action. It’s a community of awesome women doing awesome things! While not STEM or tech specific per say, the event series promises to enable you to “meet other women living and working with purpose, help raise money and awareness for good causes, and hear stories from our incredible women speakers who are making it happen.” Apart from inspirational talks they also host a range of co-working days and you can find some cool videos on their twitter page.
- +Women in Security and Privacy (WISP): WISP aims to advance women in the privacy and security industries by providing advocacy, networking, mentoring, and leadership development. They host and publicize a range of events including various privacy related summits and panels. Most recently they launched a mentorship program called Tandem.
- ***Watermark was created by Stanford MBA students Denise Brousseau and Jennifer Gill Roberts in response to the question Jennifer posed in 1993: Why are there so few female entrepreneurs and why were those few unable to connect with venture capital in Silicon Valley? It didn’t take long for the two to create a groundbreaking nonprofit called the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs — today known as Watermark. The organization welcomes women executives, entrepreneurs and emerging executives, featuring more than 50 events a year (open to everyone) ranging from personal branding, communication and networking to negotiation, leadership and organizational skills. Watermark also invests in girls’ leadership programs with the intent of helping to prepare future women executives. Watermark’s signature event, the Watermark Conference for Women Silicon Valley, is set for April 21, 2016, at the San Jose Convention Center. More than 5,000+ attended last year’s inaugural event featuring Hillary Clinton. This year, the conference will welcome 6,000 attendees.
Bonus List (I couldn’t help myself!)
In my quest to put together “the list”, I came across some amazing, inspirational projects that were not directly suggested by participants of my crowdsourcing effort. The 5 suggestions below are sites / blogs featuring stories and interviews from the women in the tech world that I felt compelled to include. Beautifully written and produced, I’d strongly encourage you to check these out :)
- Makers Women in Tech Videos: Available via the Makers website, this is a huge collection of videos featuring stories and interviews with lots of women in tech. You can keep track via Twitter @MAKERSWomen.
- Women && Tech: Their goal is simple. To take 50 women working in tech out for a coffee and a chat to learn more about their experiences as a woman working in the tech world. Their focus is on Toronto, but they hope that their stores “will be relevant far beyond our Canadian borders”. You can follow their stories on Twitter @WomenAndTech.
- I Spent Spring Break Teaching Girls to Code: A really nice medium article by Christina Li on her experiences planning and organizing the “Hello World” camp in which she taught young female students how to code via projects in game design, mobile apps and websites during spring break the Utica Center for Math, Science, and Technology in Michigan. If anyone out there is wondering “how can I help women or girls in the tech world?”, Christina is an inspiration :)
- Women of Silicon Valley: Inspired by Humans of New York, Lea Coligado, a computer science student at Stanford, started a Medium site called Women of Silicon Valley. Despite being only 6 months old, the site has gathered thousands of followers eager to hear beautiful, short stories about real experiences from women working in the valley. You can follow the stories on Twitter @WomenOfSV
- wogrammer, Breaking the Programmer Stereotype: Founded by Erin Summers & Zainab Ghadiyali, this site aims to share amazing stories about real female programmers. “We highlight our fellow women engineers and their achievements, instead of focusing on the unfortunate biases encountered by women in tech. From the high school student teaching herself to code to the CEO running her business, we’ve interviewed over 50 engineers from Cape Town to Silicon Valley in all types industries”. Follow them on Twitter @wogrammer.
That’s all folks :) I hope that other women in the Bay Area and beyond find the resulting list interesting and in some way useful.
Karen is a Senior Research Scientist in Yahoo Labs where she leads a team of scientists focused on Native & Mobile Ad Analytics. Her background is in mobile computing and mobile human-computer interaction. She has spent 11+ years conducting research aimed at understanding mobile users, their online, offline and on-device behaviors using a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods. She holds a PhD in Computer Science from University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland and a BSc. in Computer Science from the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown (ITB), Ireland. Read more about Karen and her research background here. And if anything is missing from the list, reach out and she’ll add you.
Thanks to all the people who responded to the survey or contributed to the list in some way. And thanks to those who spread the word about the survey. I really appreciate it! A special thanks goes out to Brianne Huntsman who provided lots of suggestions and went above & beyond to help circulate the original survey.