National Democracy Week: supporting women in Civic Tech

Throughout National Democracy Week, we’ve been focusing on women in politics: how they’re represented; how they’re affected; and how data can help us understand more about these two topics.

To wrap things up, we want to highlight some of the organisations helping women in tech, and especially in our own field of Civic Tech.

Coding, researching, designing and promoting web tools that help people to understand and engage with democracy is mySociety’s own way of participating in politics. We’d like to encourage more women to join us in this very rewarding field.

Working in Civic Tech

Civic Tech is a fairly new field, and a broad one. And while the coding side is often — rightly — highlighted as an area where there’s a minority of women, it’s also worth mentioning that there are all kinds of other career routes available (to everyone!).

We can see some of these in mySociety: in fact, browsing our Team page is one good way of seeing the diverse roles within which we’re all chipping away at the organisation’s goals.

These include research, design, events, communications, sysadmin, data analysis, sales and delivery — and of course in the wider field there are people working in hands-on activism and philanthropy.

Organisations supporting women in Civic Tech

mySociety’s gender balance fluctuates, as you’d expect, when people leave or join; but women currently make up about a third of the workforce. We’d always love to employ more women, and when we recruit it’s something we actively think about; in fact we wrote a whole longform blog post about it a while back.

But in order for that to happen, women need to know about the routes open to them, and the benefits of working in Civic Tech. For starters, here’s a selection of the organisations actively working to get more women into this field and to support them once they’re here.

  • Open Heroines brings together the voices of women working in open government, open data and Civic Tech.
  • Code First: Girls (UK) works with companies and with men and women directly, to help increase the number of women in tech.
  • 23 Code Street (London) offers coding courses to women; for every paying student, they also teach digital skills to a woman in the slums of India.
  • Women Hack For Non-Profits (London) a community of women building open source projects for non-profit organisations and charities. Learn to code and work on real life projects.
  • Codebar.io (UK and worldwide) teaches coding in a supportive, collaborative environment for women, LGBTQ, and underrepresented ethnic groups.
  • blackgirl.tech (UK) ‘code and chill’ workshops for black women and non binary people.
  • Rails Girls (worldwide) Ruby on Rails workshops for women.
  • Lesbians Who Tech (US and worldwide) a community of queer women in or around tech (and the people who love them).
  • Geek Girl Meetup UK (London and worldwide) a network, for and by, women and girls interested in all things tech, design, and startup.
  • Mums in Tech (UK) coding school for mums, with baby friendly courses, events and classes.
  • DevelopHer (UK) non-profit community dedicated to elevating women in tech.
  • Pyladies (worldwide) mentorship group for women in the python community.
  • TLA Women in Tech (London) movement for gender equality in the global tech industry.
  • Ada’s List (email-based community) a group for women who are committed to changing the tech industry.
  • AuthorAID (worldwide) Supporting women researchers with practical advice and also provides grants to support researchers in attending a conference on the topic of gender or hosting a gender workshop in their country.
  • Uscreates (UK) supporting gender equality in design leadership.
  • Women who design (Twitter-based) a directory of women in the design industry.
  • Double or nothing (UK) campaign for gender equality in design.
  • Hidden women of design (Facebook page) a series of curated talks by Female Graphic Designers sharing insight into their creative practice.
  • Women in data (UK) Annual conference for data professionals.

Words from mySociety’s staff

Louise, Head of Development: I enjoy working for an organisation that has a positive effect on the state of the world and helps a wide range of people participate in civic life. As far as tech goes, I think programming is an amazing career choice for women for a lot of reasons — but three really obvious ones are money (tech jobs tend to pay above the average), power (you can build things that change the world) and flexibility (tech jobs tend to be inherently flexible and, as mySociety demonstrates, you can work from home).

Bec, Head of Research: What I enjoy about working in Civic Tech is discovering how relatively small tools can change behaviours and change institutions. Hopefully for the better!

Abi, HR: My Top Tips for Job Applicants now include reading this great piece, Confidence and the Gender Gap: 14 tips for Women in Tech. Think you’re slightly under-qualified? APPLY ANYWAY. We have seen worse, believe me.

Myf, Communications Manager: I’ve found Civic Tech to be a really welcoming field that judges you on the quality of your work, not your gender or any other factor that’s irrelevant to the task in hand.

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