Campfire #44: Empowering Women to Thrive In Tech

By Samantha Anderson

Last Updated: January 12th 2023

How the Women Techmakers Program by Google can reduce the inclusion gap

Last week on Campfire, Nucamp CEO Ludo Fourrage was joined by Nucamp Director of Curriculum Chryssa Jones, Women Techmakers Program Manger Sequoyah Patrick, and Global Lead for the Women Techmakers Ambassador Program Caitlin Morrissey.

The Women Techmakers program by Google is focused on building community, visibility, and resources so all women can thrive in tech.

“There's research that demonstrates the importance of community, of giving resources for women to succeed, and the importance of seeing visible role models that look like you so that you too feel like you have a place and that you belong.” -Sequoyah Patrick

Women Techmakers contains two main programs: the Ambassador Program and Membership Program.

The Ambassadors Program specifically focuses on helping empower leaders in the tech space.

Women and allies from all around the world in the program focus on hosting events, speaking at events, being a visible role model, creating content, and mentoring others to help get us closer to a world where we have gender equity in tech.

There are currently 1600 ambassadors and about 500 additional ambassadors are to be onboarded in the near future.

Ambassadors have hosted over 500 events and have spoken at over 800 events.

In return for ambassadors sharing their expertise and stories with their community, Women Techmakers provides opportunity to connect with a global network of women and exclusive learning and development opportunities.

Ambassadors are viewed as leaders and experts within their tech communities and there is an application process to join.

This program is for women who already hold some sort of role in tech and are making an impact in their community—the Ambassador Program will help them become better at organizing events, improve their public speaking skills, etc.

If you are interested in becoming an ambassador start by getting active in your community. Speak at events no matter how small, host something internally for your company, or bring together a community and create opportunities for yourself to start building your skills.

The Women Techmakers Membership Program is a free program anyone can sign up for. It provides access to Google events and a monthly newsletter with ambassador activities, and updates on things happening at Google, Women Techmakers, Google Cloud, or the Android space.

There are currently 80,000 members in over 190 countries.

Chryssa is also a Women Techmakers participant and chapter leader in her local Google Developers group in Oahu, Hawaii.

Chryssa first learned about Women Techmakers in late 2019, early 2020.

Women Techmakers was an organization that she really wanted to be a part of because she identifies as a native Hawaiian woman and knew that not only are women underrepresented in technology but so are Hawaiians.

She felt this was really an opportunity to help grow her community as a Hawaiian woman and was excited to apply for and join women Techmakers.

Hawaii didn’t have a Google Developers community for her to join so she took the initiative to launch one herself so she could also be a Women Techmakers Ambassador.

“I'm grateful for their opportunity to be able to be in this position and represent my community and help bring additional resources into my community so that we can grow those opportunities for women and for developers here in Hawaii.” -Chryssa Jones

Something in common with Caitlin, Sequoyah, and Chryssa’s journey to Google and Nucamp respectively was none of them started their careers in tech.

The three of them began their careers in other industries and transitioned into the tech industry later in their careers.

Their advice is to network, network, network.

Getting referrals from someone they knew was the common denominator in all their stories.

Besides networking, building their skill set and being able to illustrate their accomplishments and transferable skills was key.

“When I made that career change, I didn't have to start at the very bottom. I already had all of this experience as a professional that applied directly to my new job with the new layer of technical skills that I learned through education. That's really the sweet spot for a lot of career changers. Look at where your passions lie, where is your expertise already, and then what new skills you need to pick up through formal training to get you to the next step in your journey.” -Chryssa Jones

“Your network is very important but at the same time your expertise, your background, and the things that you're working on can also speak wonders for you and open up doors.” -Caitlin Morrissey

Does the Women Techmakers progam provide non-technical training as well (e.g. public speaking, management, etc)?

“Yes, it’s not just about the technical skills to succeed in tech. There's a lot about communicating, collaborating, and negotiating. We offer both technical content and applied skills (a.k.a. soft skills) because oftentimes equally if not sometimes more important especially depending on where you are in the industry.
The most important skill to have is not necessarily a specific programming language, it's the ability to learn.” -Caitlin Morrissey

“Very often the big difference between a successful graduate and a less successful graduate of a coding bootcamp is going to be around those soft skills. It's going to be about how well you engage in a mentorship connection, how well you respond to an interview, or how you respond to someone who's recruiting you for a particular job.” -Ludo Fourrage

What do you hear from your audience (80,000 people across 190 counties) as the challenges or wins you are seeing for women joining the tech world?

“It's often a challenge in general—especially when you are a developer—when you are the only woman in the room. That can be intimidating for women a lot of times.
Those applied skills, outside of teaching technology, we also want to teach them to be more confident in those spaces. For example, to be able to be better speakers on stage because we often also see that women won't go to an event unless they see women on the panel. So we have a program called women developer Academy teaching technical women to develop these really impactful speeches on stage on whatever topic that they choose and we saw wins from them. They can say, ‘I did this, I had this mentor, I delivered this speech, it turned into me landing a role, and now I'm way more confident.’" -Sequoyah Patrick

“I think a lot of us have this picture of what it means to “work in tech” or be a technical person. A lot of people might think of somebody coding furiously on their computer late at night, maybe they're wearing a hoodie, and oftentimes it's a man. I think tech is very diverse in the opportunities and ways that you can be technical and what being technical looks like. That's one of the things that was also really surprising to me who did not come from a technical background. I was interested in math and liked problem-solving, but I never thought I would like tech.
I think that there are a lot of people that miss out potentially on exploring a career in tech because they think they're not technical. I really don't think necessarily being “technical” is a requirement. If technology is at all interesting to you, you don't have to be this super technical person or a math whiz. There are a lot of different opportunities to learn and grow technical skills and be a part of the industry in a lot of different ways.” -Caitlin Morrissey

What would you like to tell the woman in the audience who's wondering right now if she should actually pursue a job in tech?

“Do it! Why not? More than anything, and what I've learned along the way is if you're passionate about something or you just want to try it out and you're curious, why not go for it? It doesn't have to be your end-all-be-all. One of my favorite quotes that I've seen is you're not a tree you can move. So if you get into tech and you realize it's absolutely not for you, then you can switch careers and you can switch industries and it's perfectly okay. You have one life to live and if that's something that you're interested in doing then take that leap of faith and go after it.” -Sequoyah Patrick

“As we move further ahead in the economy and just the future more and more of our work is going to be tech related. It's never too late to learn technical skills because as we move forward, we're all going to need those skills. So why not jump in now and get ahead of that game.” -Chryssa Jones

“Don’t let ideas of what it means to be in tech hold you back. We need more women and underrepresented groups in this industry. Diversity builds better products and outcomes for every single person. So, if you're thinking about it, definitely just try it.
To the men in the audience as well, this is your call to be an ally. We need you in this fight with us. This is not something we are going to be able to do entirely on our own, as I mentioned earlier women are only 20% or so of this industry, and so this is your call. You can be a part of our community, but you can also just be that ally for other women and other underrepresented folks. Learn about what being an ally means and practice that in your life and in the tech space because we truly do need everyone to help us build our mission where all women can thrive and where everyone can truly thrive in tech” -Caitlin Morrissey

Watch the full episode:

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Samantha Anderson

Marketing Manager

Part Illustrator, part Graphic Designer, and part Digital Marketer—with a sprinkle of sales savvy and a dash of empathy. I'm all about using my creativity to craft captivating stories through both illustration and writing. When I'm not at my computer, you'll find me drawing nature inspired patterns and portraits on my other favorite screen: my iPad. To keep myself inspired (and to get away from my slight tech addiction) I garden, golf, and go on nature walks with my dog and cat leading the way.