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 itâ€™s coming up are sad, but the reasons aren’t surprising (which makes it even more sad…). Â 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 donâ€™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. Â 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. Â The program has recently expanded into some weekend workshop and summer activities. Â Right now you can help out by volunteering to mentor, helping to promote workshops, and in the future Iâ€™ll be posting more opportunities for involvement such as sponsorship.
Itâ€™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. Â 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. Â 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. Â When that happens, Iâ€™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. Â The program has recently started running workshops in Hamilton on McMaster University campus. Â 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. Â A 12-week free Coding Bootcamp will introduce basic web programming to adults 19+ who are not currently enrolled in post-secondary. Â 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. Â Over the summer some introductory workshops are running as a â€śtry and see if you like it before you commit to 12 weeksâ€ť. Â 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. Â 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. Â For example with concepts such as functional programming with the Elm Language. Â 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 Iâ€™m missing other founders, please let me know].