Industry News

Coding Bootcamp Creates Scholarship for Women in Tech

By eLearning Inside
October 18, 2017

Over the past three years, the Silicon Valley has been at the heart of multiple gender-based controversies.  As company after company has come forward with their numbers, the reason is obvious. Across the board from Google and Apple to Facebook and Yahoo, in the tech sector, women are consistently under represented as employees. When you eliminate non-tech positions (e.g., administrative, retail, and marketing roles), the disparity is even greater. As of 2014, only 15% of tech jobs were occupied by women at Facebook and Yahoo and at Twitter the split was even worse (only 10% of tech positions were occupied by women).

While the problems certainly reach beyond education, part of the problem is the talent pipeline: Women account for only 18.1% of students in bachelor’s computer science programs. To help train more women for positions in tech, Bloc, a San Francisco-based online coding bootcamp, announced this week that it is setting aside $1 million to support scholarships for women.

The Close the Gap Scholarship Fund

Bloc Close the Gap ScholarshipBloc’s Close the Gap Scholarship Fund is designed to make tuition for its part-time coding bootcamps more affordable to women. As stated in a press release issued earlier this week, “Bloc believes that to overcome the gender gap, tech training must become more affordable and accessible to women, including working women hoping to retrain for higher paying jobs in tech.” As part of the effort to raise the number of women in tech, Bloc is inviting eligible female applicants to apply to the Close the Gap scholarship (currently worth 40% of tuition) towards one of two eligible Bloc programs: Bloc’s Part-Time Web Developer Track (originally $8,800) or Designer Track (originally $9,800).

Clint Schmidt, Bloc CEO, explains why Bloc started the scholarship: “Serving thousands of students, we’ve become familiar with the obstacles that still face women pursuing careers in tech. Some of these obstacles are based on misinformation about what it takes to succeed in the field. Others are based on real constraints, including lack of money and time. Our scholarship is part of a broader effort to dismantle these obstacles.”

Bloc’s Commitment to Supporting Women in Tech

While the Close the Gap Scholarship is new, Bloc’s commitment to women in tech is not. In fact, in 2016, women already accounted for 39% of Bloc’s successful students and by the end of 2018, Bloc hopes to raise this to 50%.  The reasons why women opt in to Bloc’s online coding and designer bootcamp programs at a much higher frequency than they opt to enrol in traditional computer science programs are diverse.

Some women, like Jennifer Slayton, are looking to retrain for higher paying jobs in tech. Prior enrolling in a program at Bloc, Jennifer Slayton was an elementary school teacher. After taking time off to raise two small children, Slayton said, “I needed a change, something fresh. Then enters Bloc!”  Upon graduation from her Bloc program, she was hired as UX/UI Designer: “Now I am doing both UX/UI design for mobile apps, web and marketing materials.” Emiko Dodson was a stay-at-home mom prior to signing up for a program at Bloc. “I can say with confidence that Bloc has changed my life in a very exciting way,” explains Dodson, “I’m still going through Bloc’s program and am very much a junior in my skills at this point, but I have been able to start a new career in the tech field. Now I’m a part of the Rails team at my company, and I have been learning so much from other developers. It feels like a dream every day.” Noelle Lewkowicz who previously worked in fashion says her training at Bloc has both opened new doors and given her more mobility on the job market: “The fashion industry is so competitive, and I struggled to get my foot in the door. With this shift into UX/UI, I now have recruiters coming to me. I will be able to choose where I work instead of accepting whatever comes my way.”

While there is no question that it will take more than a single scholarship fund to overcome the gender gap in tech, there is also no question that Bloc’s current intervention is a step in the right direction.


One Comment

  1. I am a former summit learning teacher in Holyoke, MA. I can tell you, unequivocally, that the entire platform stinks. It is not even a curriculum, it is a hodgepodge resources lifted from Khan Academy, youtube, Engage NY, IXL lessons, scanned textbook pages, and other unrelated sources. These materials are often not aligned to common core standards, they are often of poor quality, they include numerous broken links. Students are expected to independently take notes as they work, but no consideration has been given to the lexile levels of readings so the material is often completely inaccessible to students. The math curriculum is devoid of any meaningful direct instruction. Many students disengage within a couple of weeks and spend most of their time browsing the internet or gaming instead of learning. As they fall behind, they see their home screen turn more and more red, causing greater frustration and discouragement. Students become so screen addicted that they rebel any time a teacher attempts to give them direct instruction. Worse yet, the necessity of teacher training in the platform’s usage necessitates the hiring of several consultants and coaches, many of whom explicitly state that their primary objective is to prove the platform viable so that it may grow to more school districts. Ultimately, school administrators are pressured to increase scores of online tests (many of which students attempt literally dozens of times over), so they pressure teachers to take tests with their students to ensure a passing grade. Essentially, schools are falsifying data to ensure Summit’s growth. Given that Summit pitches its product as a turnaround model for struggling urban schools, its practices are essentially exploitative.