The issue of inclusivity in the tech sector has been a focus in the news lately, as well as a focus of discussions locally. It’s too bad the reasons it’s coming up are sad, but the reasons aren’t surprising (which makes it even more sad…). I wanted to write this article going over existing initiatives around inclusivity that are already happening in the city around tech and startups, including ways to get involved and help them. I want to write some more articles on this topic, including one highlighting some cool things that women in the local tech sector are doing that maybe some people don’t know about but would find interesting to learn about.
Hamilton tech and startup inclusivity initiatives
Hamilton Code Clubs (@hamontcodeclub) is a program by IEC Hamilton, led by Beth Gibson (@bethkgibson), to teach elementary school students how to code through lunch-hour and after-school clubs run by community mentors. The program is focused on priority neighbourhoods and female students, especially in grades 6-8 which are particularly critical years for encouraging career paths, and has reached over 1,600 students in the Hamilton-area at roughly 40 schools. The program has recently expanded into some weekend workshop and summer activities. Right now you can help out by volunteering to mentor, helping to promote workshops, and in the future I’ll be posting more opportunities for involvement such as sponsorship.
It’s also worth noting that Hamilton Code Clubs is organizing a small working group to provide advice on ensuring the program is inclusive and welcoming to everyone. As the group evolves over the next year, the intention is that it can also look at sharing best practices to help local firms with inclusivity. For example, several firms partnered with the program have noticed specific changes they can make to their job postings to appeal to more women applicants; these types of best practices can be packaged together and shared with the community. When that happens, I’ll be sure to post the results.
Black Boys Code (@blackboyscode) is a program founded by Bryan Johnson that introduces boys of colour between the ages of 8 to 17 to computer science through one and two-day; workshops, after-school events and mentoring programs. The program has recently started running workshops in Hamilton on McMaster University campus. You can help out by volunteering to mentor and helping to promote their upcoming workshops.
Women in Computing Society (WiCS) McMaster is a McMaster University group that runs events for women in the various computing programs on McMaster campus, founded by Alyssia Jovellanos (@alyssiacodes) [who is a rockstar leader in general too].
Coding Bootcamp is a new joint project by Mohawk College and IEC Hamilton. A 12-week free Coding Bootcamp will introduce basic web programming to adults 19+ who are not currently enrolled in post-secondary. The program will operate out of Hamilton Public Library, and a female only version of the same program will operate out of the Eva Rothwell Centre. Over the summer some introductory workshops are running as a “try and see if you like it before you commit to 12 weeks”. You can help out by spreading the word about these upcoming workshops!
McMaster Computing and Software Outreach (@maccasoutreach) is a program led by Christopher Anand, focused on computer science outreach, through creating educational software, delivering workshops and other activities such as summer programming. The program is particularly innovative in its curriculum development, covering computer science and computational thinking rather than the imperative style computer programming covered by most outreach activities. For example with concepts such as functional programming with the Elm Language. The program has also had a focus on women and other underrepresented groups in its curriculum development and program delivery.
Women Entrepreneurship (@women_ent) is a local event series founded by Justin Policarpio (@Justin_Polic) covering the success of women entrepreneurs (not just tech/startup), and supporting those small businesses in the region.
Hamilton Fempreneurs (@hamfempreneurs) is a monthly meetup group for women entrepreneurs and leaders (not just tech/startup), with a talk or discussion at each meeting, founded by Suzanne Zandbergen (@thegeneratorca) [also, if I’m missing other founders, please let me know].