For international women’s day, several Toronto-based startups have announced initiatives that remove barriers to women entering the tech industry, or support those already in it. Here’s a roundup of a few initiatives to expect.
Hubba and Ladies Learning Code launch coding program at Nellie’s
“Shelters like Nellie’s are giving so much to our community by providing safe places for women in crisis. I know from first-hand childhood experience that they’re literally saving lives and enabling women and children to rebuild,” said Stephanie Little, head of talent at Hubba. “Tangible skills for women to be able to find work when they’re ready are a massive part of this rebuilding.”
According to a statement from Hubba and LLC, there is an interest at the Toronto-based shelter for programs in coding and web development. Working out of a safe space, workshops delivered by both LLC and Hubba volunteers will touch on building a basic website, and coding workshops that will improve tech proficiency for women looking for a fresh start.
“Nellie’s is thrilled to be partnering with Hubba on an initiative that will provide women living in Nellie’s shelter and our community clients with accessible training in computer skills. This program will provide women, who have experienced abuse or violence, and have multiple barriers to work on marketable skills to help increase their job readiness,” said Marlene Bell, program manager at Nellie’s Shelter. “We ultimately hope this program will enhance women’s opportunities to become economically self-sufficient while also breaking isolation through their participation in the program.”
Nulogy launches apprenticeship program for woman-identified developers
Toronto-based Nulogy has launched a paid ($1,000 a week) three-month program, beginning in May 2017, for two women-identified developers looking to build on their technical skills.
The Link program, which transitions to a full-time position at Nulogy, is open to developers at all stages of experience (new grads, self-taught, or experienced). Link will allow developers to learn in an immersive environment with technical mentors, and apply code to Nulogy’s production database.
“Nulogy is in a growth stage; we expect to increase the size of our product development team by 40 percent throughout 2017,” the company said in a blog post. “Our intent is to grow the team in ways that both align with our values while building the best product for our customers.”
The company said in the post that the program is part of Nulogy’s overall strategy to attract more women to the company after consulting with women in Toronto’s tech community. The company has also launched Nuclusion, an internal committee tackling projects like Safe Space guidelines and raising awareness about implicit bias, and sponsored events like Rails Girls Toronto.
Freshbooks providing free coworking space on international women’s day
On March 8, Freshbooks is partnering with WeWork, WorkBar, and Deskpass to provide free coworking space to women in Boston, New York, and Chicago.
Private screenings of the documentary Dream, Girl will be offered at coworking locations in New York, Boston, and Chicago. In Toronto, Freshbooks hosted a panel this past Saturday featuring Wattpad head of creators Melissa Nightingale, SheEO founder Vicki Saunders, and lawyer Francisca Sinn.
“Women now comprise 29 percent of the American self-employed economy, yet still face challenges such as access to capital and a lack of role models,” said Mike McDerment, co-founder and CEO, FreshBooks. “Awareness to these issues shouldn’t be confined to International Women’s Day. FreshBooks is proud to support the growing community of female entrepreneurs every day of the year.”
Wealthsimple announces initiatives to make the company more welcoming for women
As more women come forward about their stories of harassment and sexism at Uber, Wealthsimple is taking steps to prevent that type of culture from seeping into the company, and trying to create a more welcoming environment for women.
The company is currently employing Textio to flag gendered language in job postings, changed its technical interview process to be more collaborative than confrontational, and launched a benefits program that includes six months parental leave at 100 percent of salary. The company also started an internal women’s development group for social and learning activities, and implemented a process for anonymous feedback.
BetaKit will add to this list as we hear from more Canadian companies.