Code First: Girls trains 10,000 girls to code for free

Mark Johnson's picture
by Mark Johnson

Code First: Girls, which works to get more women into the tech sector, said it’s now taught 10,000 women to code in-person for free in the UK and Ireland

The multi-award winning social enterprise is working with women and companies to increase the proportion of women in tech, and the figures represent an important a new milestone for the tech sector. 

In the 18 months since the launch of its 2020 campaign, an initiative aimed at teaching 20,000 young women how to code for free by the end of 2020, the organisation has made strong progress, with Code First: Girls now halfway to this target and on track to achieve its final goal. 

The company launched its 2020 campaign at the end of 2017 with a clear objective to significantly grow their existing free in-person coding course offer and set a target to teach 20,000 women to code by the end of 2020. 

Support of corporate partners

As part of this campaign, and with the support of several corporate partners, they have now taught 10,000 women to code for free across 35 cities hosting 297 courses. 

Thanks to these overwhelming numbers, Code First: Girls is now the leading provider of free in-person coding education to women in the UK and Ireland. 

This record result comes at a time of stark under-representation for women in the UK’s technology sector. According to the UK Office of National Statistics, in 2018 women made up only 11.6 per cent of software professionals in the UK. 

Tech balance: Girls train to get a foothold in the tech sector

“As a business committed to responsible growth, we recognise that it is essential we equip women with the tools and training they need in order to play an active role in building the digital economy”, said Allison Krill, head of EMEA global banking and markets technology at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

“Our partnership with Code First Girls has flourished since it began in 2014 and it is excellent to see the progress that has been made since the launch of 2020 Campaign. We look forward to seeing more young women thrive and fulfil their potential.” 

One year after announcing a partnership with online rail travel company Trainline, its CEO Clare Gilmartin, said: “We’re incredibly proud to support Code First: Girls and it’s fantastic to see them reach this landmark achievement. 

“The 20:20 initiative is an excellent example of how the industry and charity sector can pull together to create a more level playing field in tech. 

“We understand first-hand the benefits a more diverse workforce can bring to any business and are excited to continue to help Code First: Girls achieve great things.” 

Girls achieving ambitions

Jean-Pierre Saad, Managing Director and Head of Technology for the CFG partner KKR, said the initiative was helping girls achieve their ambitions: “Code First: Girls is doing fantastic work in encouraging gender diversity in technology, and in particular helping young women achieve their ambitions and play a more important role in the digital economy. 

“We believe their efforts will benefit the UK economy and society more broadly, and we are very pleased to be able to support them in their mission and in hitting their targets as part of the 20:20 campaign.” 

Yet another partner, Thomas Wales, Head of Cloud Customer Service – EMEA, and who is also a CFG Instructor, said: “At OVH we really enjoy partnering with Code First: Girls, in this great initiative. 

“Following the success of this landmark achievement, we hope to see many of the CFG graduates joining our Digital Launch Pad (DLP) startup accelerator programme in the not too distant future.” 

Jo Hannaford, Head of the Technology Division for Goldman Sachs in EMEA and Global Head of Quality Assurance Engineering, about the partnership: “We’re thrilled to see the progress Code First: Girls has made towards its goal of increasing the number of women in technology. The scale at which it is now operating is hugely effective. Enabling access to coding for young women is incredibly important to me, both personally and professionally, and I look forward to seeing the impact these young women will have in the future.” 

Code First: Girls’ CEO Amali de Alwis was awarded an MBE award for services to women in technology at Buckingham Palace and is one of the leading voices on the topic in the UK. 

Prior to that, Amali was named one of the most influential women in UK tech and was also shortlisted in the top 10 most influential BAME tech leaders in the UK by the Financial Times.

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