(Photo by Lindsay Podraza)
Getting more women involved in the tech world, Dominique Clarke said, all boils down to moments of clarity.
Taking an exploratory class and developing skills often seems daunting or too expensive. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
“Women need to have moments where they discover they’re interested in tech,” said Clarke, the community engagement manager at Zip Code Wilmington.
She and five others aimed to inspire women to find those moments Monday night at a panel discussion called “Women Innovators in Delaware: The New Tech Economy and Fitting In.” The event, at the Wilmington offices of Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP, was part of Delaware Innovation Week.
In addition to Clarke, the speakers were:
- Sarah Johnson, community outreach manager for TechGirlz, an organization for middle-school girls
- Dawn McDougall, executive director of Code for Philly
- Megan Anthony, community manager of 1313 Innovation
- Jessi Taylor, president of Barrel of Makers
- Julie Frieswyk, manager of Youth Programs and Venture Development at the University of Delaware Horn Program in Entrepreneurship
The big takeaway from their discussion was that the Delaware tech scene — based largely in Wilmington — is welcoming, and that tech leaders, particularly the six speakers, want women to attend events even if they don’t end up doing anything hands-on. Showing up and hanging out, they said, can lead to those important moments of discovery while being within a supportive community.
The interest, Anthony said, is there.
She and Clarke have been involved in organizing Girl Develop It classes in Wilmington, which are introductory programming classes for women. “The classes keep selling out,” Anthony said.
Johnson pointed out that introducing technology to women isn’t just about coding. “It’s also about robotics and 3D printing and developing apps,” Johnson said.
Frieswyk, who works with college students, agreed.
“Every job is a tech job now,” she said. “I’m not a tech person and I’m working on eight different websites a day.”
Danette Conley, who has taken a Girl Develop It class, said she found the speakers inspiring and had never heard of Delaware’s maker group. “I’m so excited about Barrel of Makers,” said Conley, who recently left her job in manufacturing to work in project management for SevOne, a network performance management software company. “Crafts and tech? I’m totally up for that.”
Here are some resources and upcoming classes that the six presenters invited women to try out:
- Delaware Public Libraries’ 3D printers and computer labs
- Zip Code Wilmington
- ELA Conf in Philadelphia, Nov. 20-21 (which, our sister site Technical.ly Philly says, has a “killer” all-female speaker lineup)
- Diamond Challenge, for high school entrepreneurs (sign up by Nov. 30)
- Girl Develop It Wilmington Code and Coffee Study Group, Dec. 2
- Hour of Code, Dec. 7-13
- Women in Tech Summit Philadelphia, April 9
- Barrel of Makers workshops in Wilmington, Monday nights at 1313 Innovation
- Delaware Tech Meetup, every month’s third Thursday
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