The tech industry’s gender issues are well established — for instance, women make up only 1 in 4 of the tech workforce. That number dwindles further when it comes to upper-and-middle management — and further yet when it comes to minority women.
And it’s not for want of trying. Gender biases and the endemic ‘bro culture’ have precluded many women from the world, so much so that many give up before they even get their foot in the door.
Singaporean non-profit The Codette Project wants to change that. They believe that having more minority women in the industry can only be a good thing.
As Codette founder Nurul Hussain says: “The underrepresentation of minority women in tech has an enormous impact on the kind of tech that is created, as well as its impact on communities.”
“Minority women who have been rejected from economic opportunities, or made to feel uncomfortable at work due to their backgrounds or appearances, are understandably concerned that these rejections are the norm,” she says. “That can make any new experience — like joining the tech industry — even more intimidating.”
It’s why The Codette Project places such an emphasis on creating a safe, welcoming space for minority women to enter the tech world.
Set up in 2015, The Codette Project has held numerous workshops, events, and hackathons for minority and Muslim women. These workshops teach a wide variety of topics that range from basic coding to data analysis and resume-building to UX design.
Their aim is to help these women enter and succeed in the tech industry — not just at an entry level, but at every rung on the ladder.
The Project has since pivoted to holding live seminars and talks on Instagram Live since the circuit breaker began, hosting talks with business owners and tech gurus on their experiences in the industry.
To help those who are struggling during this time, they’ve also launched the Codette Cares project, which provides funding, mentorship and aid to students and female-led tech initiatives.
“Tech has the most level playing field in terms of access to opportunities,” says Hussain, who got into the industry because of Codette. “So we’re working towards making this more accessible and possible for the women in my community.”
For Hussain, it’s not just about imparting some coding skills to these women and calling it a day. She says that the most valuable thing that The Codette Project imparts isn’t just tech know-how and skills, but a solid community that women can be part of.
She recounts stories of how some women who’ve followed them on Instagram for years finally mustered the courage to come to their events.
“To us, this is powerful, because it means that we’ve grown with them during these years, and they’ve become comfortable enough to finally come to meet us,” she adds.
“We’ve also seen women gain skills and knowledge in our workshops that the use to improve their careers and businesses. We’ve seen women build friendships with the people they meet to help encourage them to create the success that they deserve.”
And that’s the core of The Codette Project for Hussain: a community that supports and empowers women.
“All skills will eventually become obsolete, but community is one of the ways where we grow and amplify success,” she says.