Code First Girls surpasses goal to teach 20,000 UK women to code

Code First Girls, the UK social enterprise working to close the gender gap in technology, has today announced it has surpassed its 2017 campaign goal to teach over 20,000 young women how to code in the UK and Ireland. Over the past three years, Code First Girls has become the largest provider of free coding courses for women, having delivered over £14m worth of free technology education. The announcement comes at a critical time to close the IT skills gap, only 19% of those pursuing Computer Science at higher education level are women. 

As part of Code First Girls’ ongoing commitment to increase the representation of women in technology, the social enterprise is launching its 2021 vision to give women the fair advantage. Code First Girls is pledging to double its community of women in technology in 2021, in an effort to close the growing skills gap in the UK. 

Early-stage employability

In the last year, Code First Girls has taught over three times as many women to code than the entire UK university undergraduate system. The social enterprise has partnered up with over 50 UK universities, making it the largest university network in the UK, to bring free coding courses to young women. Through these classes, the social enterprise has provided students with the digital literacy skills they need to rewrite their future and connect them to technology career opportunities. 

As part of their new strategy, Code First Girls are working with UK employers, across a range of industries, to develop twelve week nano degree programmes, which specifically train women for jobs including software developers. The social enterprise will also offer a breadth of short and accessible online courses designed to impart technical skills, confidence or career discovery and classes to teach coding fundamentals in web development, Python or data. 

The announcement comes on the heels of recent data from the Office of National Statistics, which highlights that women only make up 17 percent of IT professionals, a trend that has remained stagnant over the past ten years. There is an urgent need to diversity the industry, in order to achieve gender parity.

Reskilling in the face of COVID-19

Code First Girls’ 2021 vision follows the latest research from The Centre of Economic Performance, which found women are more likely to lose their jobs than men in the COVID-19 crisis, as female dominated sectors face devastation. Women need to reskill due to COVID-19 and with the Code First Girl programmes, including virtual coding classes and upskilling, women are able to develop their digital literacy and open the doors to a wide range of stable technical careers. 

The social enterprise is also committed to actively investing in developing the community network and access through its mentorship programme to build confidence and facilitate career paths, targeting imposter syndrome. This is fundamental to supporting women beyond the hiring stage, as it’s estimated 90 percent of women in the UK experience imposter syndrome at work. This is fundamental now more than ever in a remote workplace, to empower women and ensure their roles and ability to focus on them are protected. 

“We’re thrilled to have been able to deliver on our promise to help 20,000 women learn to code. But we are just getting started. We’re launching a new strategy and urging businesses to help close the gender gap further through investing in female talent that want a career in tech, and create additional possibilities for them.” said Anna Brailsford, CEO at Code First Girls.  

“COVID-19 accelerated appetite for coding education, as we saw an unprecedented growth, by 800 percent, in registrations for our virtual classes during lockdown. Coding education is important, now more than ever. Over the last few months, we have been working to help women who have been displaced by COVID-19 redundancies or entering a tough graduate market to reskill and find employment. Our priority has been to help women achieve jobs, at a time of deep economic and social uncertainty.”

Alice Bentinck MBE, co-founder of Code First Girls and Entrepreneur First, added: “Over the last three years, Code First Girls has made huge strides in getting more women in technology through partnering with universities and businesses to run coding, mentorship and upskill programmes. The work the team is doing is fundamental to closing the skills gap and enabling young women to feel empowered to select a wide range of careers available in technology, as well as providing them with the confidence to succeed.”

Code First Girls works with over 65 companies to increase the number of women in technology, and is a strategic partner of corporations including Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, KKR, OVHcloud and Trainline. Through its programmes, Code First Girls is providing initiatives to support women including access to top female talent, engaging workshops and upskilling.

To find out more about Code First Girls, click here.