It’s a brilliant time for women to be driving change and innovation in the tech world. Tech has historically been rocky terrain for women due to inherent misogyny and sexual harassment (read Super Pumped for more details), but women have made amazing strides since the Susan Fowler controversy. Concepts like “meritocracy” are being reexamined and debunked, and tech subsets like crypto are attracting more women-led startups.
Even the educational landscape is vastly different — Mark Zuckerberg might’ve been an antisocial genius Harvard dropout, but anyone can learn full-stack development on Codecademy for $240 a year. The barriers to entrance in tech have never been lower, especially considering the high demand for software since the pandemic started. For women wanting to download VS Code and create real value through technology, the prospects are bright. Finding your home of strong, welcoming, and smart ladies can help you gain the confidence and skills to succeed — and make the tech ecosystem a healthier place for everyone to build in.
I’ve been dabbling in female-focused tech communities and programs for a few months, so I wanted to share a few. I’ve met incredible women who have founded DeFi options platforms, made strides in blockchain VC capital, and led Machine Learning workshops. It’s finally our time to program the narrative.
Founded by students at UC Berkeley in 2018, she256 has grown into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that promotes diversity within blockchain by organizing conferences, connecting women with mentors, hosting technical workshops, launching their own research study, and so much more. What amazes me about she256 is the volume of opportunities they offer — you can create your own fellowship with them and contribute to their open source GitHub dedicated to educating high schoolers about blockchain. Even their bold branding colors — saturated pinks and glinting yellows — are empowering. Check out their beginner’s guide to blockchain and join their Discord server — they’ve got everything from a crypto/economics books club to a crypto job channel!
- The Garden
Want to be part of the first all-female hacker house in San Francisco? Here is your chance! The Garden is organizing a hacker community and co-living experiment for women ages 18 to 25 this June and July. Activities will include demo and pitch night, book clubs, all-nighter hackathons, hiking in the Bay Area, and more. This is an incredibly unique and exciting experience, especially since hacker houses have traditionally been male and glorified for their unkemptness. Fill out their application to spend your summer building friendships and skills with 10 other diverse, creative, and motivated women.
- FemTech Focus
If you’ve ever used a period tracker app or had birth control flawlessly delivered to your doorstep, then you have the emerging femtech industry to thank. Defined as “technology, services and products that improve women’s health and wellness,” femtech is the latest necessary and inspiring category in tech. FemTech Focus is a nonprofit that connects tech entrepreneurs with female healthcare experts through a thriving online community. They also produce the “#1 FemTech podcast in the world” and regularly host events, consultations, and educational resources on femtech.
- GenZ VCs
The VC (venture capital) industry has allowed tech behemoths like Facebook, Uber, Google, and Doordash to flourish in Silicon Valley. Most of these VCs are your vanilla older white tech/finance bro, but GenZ VC is aiming to change that. As a “global collective of 6,000+ Gen Z VCs,” the community brings together women interested in angel investing, venture capital, entrepreneurship, and private equity. Investing has always excluded those who were young or didn’t already have money, but those old schoolers down Sand Hill Road also didn’t have Twitter or Clubhouse. ?♀️ GenZ VCs includes an active Slack group and numerous other VC initiatives.
For all the women itching to deploy their funds in DeFi (decentralized finance) protocols like Uniswap, Aave and Oasis, SheFi is the premier program to look to. Founded by Maggie Love, the co-founder of W3BCloud, SheFi is a “DeFi educational program that doubles as a vehicle to donate funds to nonprofits that focus on educating women in STEM.” Maggie and the SheFi team lead informational webinars for their numerous cohorts, hold office hours and foster community through their Telegram groups. Applying is simple, but the connections you make with other women interested in DeFi are priceless.
- AI for Her
Since our lives are increasingly dominated by AI and algorithms, it makes sense that AI developers should reflect the users they’re serving — but instead, fewer than a quarter of AI professionals are women. AI for Her’s mission is to change this disparity and to educate, connect and empower all women interested in the field. They host virtual meetups every Sunday morning and have a LinkedIn group dedicated to fascinating AI topics and conversation.
- Female Founder Initiative
Officially under the umbrella of the larger Founder Institute, the Female Founder Initiative is geared towards helping women ideate and create a startup in the “pre-seed stage” (basically, the “friends and family” fund as you’re trying to get your startup launched). The collective offers female founder office hours, feedback on your pitch deck, newsletters, and (you guessed it) a welcoming Slack community. If you’re seriously considering founding a startup but aren’t sure where to go, the Female Founder Initiative has your back.
- Built by Girls
For an aesthetic, all inclusive community for badass women in tech, Built by Girls is high on the list. The group is focused on “female and non-binary students ages 15-22 years old” and aims to make the transition from college to career easier and more rewarding. It’s basically a support system for new grads, and teaches practical job skills (i.e. interview prep, salary negotiations, business pitch 101) through their events and blog.
- Women in Product
Don’t worry PMs, we haven’t forgotten you! Product managers in tech companies are “mini CEOs” for a certain feature or product (think UberEats, Facebook Marketplace or Doordash DashPass). They ultimately drive the direction of the product and engineering work and serve as the one-stop-shop for information on their product. Women in Product is a vibrant community that hosts mega-conferences (don’t miss their Ignite Possibility conference happening this May), has a Facebook group to connect, and even has local chapters to join.
- Meta Gamma Delta
Founded at ETH Denver on February 14, 2020, Meta Gamma Delta is a DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) that supports and funds women-led initiatives in the crypto ecosystem. A Web 3.0 version of a sorority, MGD pledges to “provide community, mentorship, resources and grants for those who want to build dope sh!t.” Women-led companies can apply for grants, and supporters of MGD can donate to their Gitcoin page. My favorite part is that potential “sisters” can “rush” the sorority and become part of the sisterhood by pledging 10 DAI and applying online.
Thankfully, there’s incredible diversity and volume in the women-focused tech communities out there. Whether you’re interested in software engineering, femtech, product management, venture capital or blockchain, there are armies of women out there to help you succeed.