A new initiative from Groningen is training women in the skills needed for successful tech careers and also paying them a 14% wage gap bonus. Femture is determined to close the tech talent gap, by recruiting, retraining and retaining women in the tech sector. The initiative is a collaboration between impact entrepreneurs Johanna Spiller (Klapstoel Academy) and Diem Do (CodeGorilla) and the two founders sat down to talk about the current job market, career challenges and the huge potential of having more women in tech.
With a four month Femture Bootcamp starting this May, Diem and Johanna want to create a safe and empowering learning environment in which women learn how to code and get trained in professional skills and soft skills by senior women in tech. And on top of that, they’re being paid a competitive salary from the start, with a guaranteed job placement.
The current challenges
Two of the biggest challenges in the tech sector today are the shortage of IT talent on the one hand, and the underrepresentation of women working in the industry on the other. “It’s rare to meet women with a tech background in my work”, says CodeGorilla founder Diem. “The majority of women working at tech companies tend to have backgrounds in things like marketing or HR, which is problematic for a number of reasons, aside from the fact that there are currently more than 26 times more vacancies than there’s qualified IT personnel.”
“If you look at female founders and the capital side, for example”, Diem continues. “Most investments go to tech driven companies, SaaS in particular is attractive for investors. There are initiatives like Fundright, where venture capitalists are looking to invest more in female founders. That’s great, but you really need a tech background, the right tech skills and the right tech network to make a startup like that work, build traction and a prototype. So we’re also trying to fix the core of the problem on that side with Femture. We need to have more women with coding skills, who can grow on to become CTOs and start their own companies.”
“And part of the problem is also the work culture”, Johanna adds. “I started my career at a very forward thinking tech company with a lot of young people. And still, there were not a lot of women in technical roles. And the ones that were, also tended to step out sooner. That’s not because of the company, but if you’re the only woman in a team, there’s no one who thinks like you, looks like you or acts like you. It makes you feel different and you don’t get the right kind of support you need to grow. It’s such a shame, because I know so many women who are super ambitious when they start their traineeship, wanting to grow in the company and even become the next CEO. But when you talk to them a few years later, they feel defeated and will tell you they’re not as interested in pursuing a career anymore.”
Soft skills in a safe space
For Johanna, this realization led to founding Klapstoel Academy. “I was fortunate enough to have a female manager who saw my ambition, made me feel safe and really helped me grow. And that experience is something I also wanted other women to have. To have a role model, get support and the skills to deal with the challenges of being a woman in a workplace where men are the majority. To connect successful career women with women who were just starting out in IT. Diem and I started discussing this over lunch, and that combining our two businesses might be the answer to help get and retain more women in tech. So that’s how Femture was born."
All women developer teams
After a bootcamp period, graduates will get ongoing training by Femture, but work on projects for other companies. After a placement period, these companies can hire them. ”We’re currently in talks with major players in the Dutch tech market, because we want to offer serious career opportunities at some of the biggest corporates in the Netherlands”, Diem says. “And these companies are already seriously interested in hiring female developers, because they know diverse teams get better results.”
“But they can also get an all women dev team for projects through us, which is really cool”, Johanna adds. “If companies sell products for women, it’s great that they can get a team of women actually developing it, rather than a team of only guys. And we’re also working with these companies to create the right work culture and avoid repeating that loop where they can’t retain our graduates. So we think it’s a win-win situation for both women and the companies.”
“We want to be the breeding ground for future female CTOs”, Diem says. “Just think of how many great ideas for startups we’re missing out on, because up to now most women didn’t have the ability to code it. I was asked to speak at a conference a few years back and spoke to successful female influencers. I told them: you’ve found a great way to monetize the online content game. You’re using all these platforms like Facebook, Instagram or Youtube and you beat the system and you’re really successful. But what if you created your own platform? With your own rules, where other women can also feel safe? Afterwards, a lot of them came up to me, super excited, asking where they could learn how to code. That’s really our vision, to create a situation where women don’t have to beat the system to be successful, they create the system.”
Check out femture.tech for more information
PHOTO CREDITS: Mariska de Groot