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How More Women Are Entering the Coding Industry

Computer programming is not just integral to the smooth running of fintech, but it also forms the baseline of digital transformation. Yet amid legacy shortages in talent and representation, one company has now taught 100,000 women how to master this essential skill. 

In response to clear talent gaps in the computer programming industry, Code First Girls has upskilled 100,000 women by teaching them how to code.

The UK-based company offers ‘CFGdegree‘ and ‘+Masters‘; a 14-week intensive course across a software, full-stack or data specialisation and a four-week extension course for post-graduates respectively.

These are in addition to two eight-week beginner courses and its ‘CFG Massive Open Online Courses‘ programme.

The company offers a free syllabus that teaches women how to code and places graduates in salaried positions at the end of the course. This is being achieved through the programme’s existing partnerships with a range of companies and brands; including NatWest, Credit Suisse and GCHQ.

To this end, the company’s courses have now taught 100,000 women how to code, including 44,861 last year; a significant achievement given that only 6,450 women embarked on undergraduate computing degrees in the UK during the same time.

The future of female programmers

The dial for female representation in tech has shifted in the right direction in recent years. The latest ONS labour force survey highlighted how more than 41,000 women joined the tech industry between 2020 and 2022, confirming that the gender gap is really closing.

In 2020, women made up 15 per cent of programmers, software development professionals and web design professionals, and that figure has now increased to 18 per cent as of 2022.

However, the company’s study reveals that, as of now, only one woman will be qualified for every 115 tech roles by 2025. Experts anticipate that the UK’s tech job market will grow six times its current size to be worth £30billion by 2025, and the need to maintain diversity in the talent pool remains crucial to unlocking this potential.

This need for new programming specialists, particularly within the scope of the fintech industry, was something touched upon by Leda Glyptis, chief client officer for the cloud-native banking platform 10x Banking, during her talk at the LEAP23 technology conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia last week.

While discussing her latest book, ‘Bankers Like Us‘, on the fintech stage, Glyptis said: “I spoke to a prospect recently who described their tech team meetings as a ZZ Top reunion, because everyone is a COBOL specialist. They’ve been working on mainframes for the last 50 years. They’re all about to retire and there’s no one in their particular market who knows how to code in COBOL. That sounds funny only it’s the reality of most banks right now.”

Shortages in niche talent pools, like COBOL coding, could pose serious limitations to not just the fintech and banking industries but could slam the brakes on innovation, and operation, across the technology landscape.

The next milestone 

Code First Girls is aiming to put over 26,000 women through its ‘CFGdegree’ and place them into technology-focused roles over the next five years.

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Anna Brailsford, CEO, Code First Girls

Speaking on this goal, Anna Brailsford, CEO at Code First Girls, said: “With women making up just a fifth of the tech industry, it’s clear the traditional model of coding education is failing to support women and people from more diverse backgrounds into tech.

“Code First Girls is helping to rectify this by partnering with businesses, government and universities to provide employment through free education.”

Having surpassed 20,000 graduates back in October 2020, reaching the 100,000 milestone just over two years later comes as a major achievement for the company. Brailsford reveals that more than half of those women come from underrepresented ethnicities and around a fifth identify as neurodiverse.

The company intends to diversify the coding talent market by expanding into international markets, including the USA, France, Switzerland, Poland, the Netherlands, and Hungary.

“We’re growing rapidly in both the UK and internationally and our courses are currently 600 per cent oversubscribed, underlining the potential to close the chasmic gender gap in the industry, if we continue to tap into this enthusiasm,” adds Brailsford.

This latest announcement follows Code First Girls’ £4.5million Series A fundraise, with investment from female angels and lead investor Active Partners.

Author

  • Tyler is a fintech journalist with specific interests in online banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.

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