Producing and filming a 40-woman seminar, teaching them how to get tech jobs in male-dominated fields.
Final Update: We're so honored and grateful for all your support! You have made a profound difference in women's lives. If you're getting here after the Kickstarter has ended, you can still support women getting tech jobs by visiting http://ladycoders.com/donate/.
Missing: Women in Tech
Our Goal: Mentor And Train Women Who Have Awesome Coding Skills So They Stay In Tech Instead Of Losing Them At Every Level Of Their Career
We think it’s awesome that an idea can go from concept to code to worldwide use with nothing more than a laptop and a bit of skill. With so many opportunities to be creative and financially independent in one of the few fields that is growing in a bad economy, why aren’t there more women involved in tech? The lack of women is startling, and we want to help add more skilled women to the technology workforce.
Women’s representation in the computing and information technology workforce has fallen over 25% from its peak of close to 40% in the mid-1980s. We need your help to show women that the freedom, status, and independence of a solid, self-supporting technology career can be theirs. We want to be able to tell ladies that thousands of people have helped to fulfill their need for mentorship and want to see them succeed. We want to do more than just report the depressing lack of women in technology; we want to help change it!
No one is teaching qualified and skilled women how to talk to the managers running and hiring for tech teams, or how to handle motherhood when trying to get back into their career after taking a break - or trying to juggle work while nursing! You don't learn in college how to interview for tech teams; if you're lucky, you get a generic class on how to interview in general.
How can we balance the scales and mentor women who who will otherwise leave software development as a career?
We have learned the hard way how to project ourselves as skilled, competent, easy to work with, and an asset to even an all-male team of programmers. We’ve succeeded in getting jobs and even more offers at places like Microsoft, Amazon, Intel, and many startups, government agencies, and mid-sized companies. We have identified and can teach the skills that have helped us land these projects.
Women lack mentorship at every single level of their information technology careers. We are three senior developers with a crazy number of combined years of experience. We are going to put on a training seminar to show women how using a base skill set can lead to a solid and worthwhile career in software and web development.
We feel strongly that everyone has the right to this information, even if we can’t quite manage to personally mentor each one. That’s why we’re going to professionally produce the seminar and make 20 short videos from our seminar talks available for free on our website. We are also going to make the full seminar available for download and on DVD as Coding + Confidence.
Why we need your help for our seminar
Putting on a seminar like this is expensive. There are fabulous videographers, editors, and film crews in the Seattle area. Independent film is very important here, and as a result, there’s a lot of local talent to draw on. These people need to eat, and no matter how nicely we ask, they can't work for free. We will be reserving a restaurant and buying lunch on two days for all of the ladies at the seminar to show them how to handle business lunches and interviews, as well as how to use these lunches to develop connections. We will be renting a large office space and conference room for the weekend. An attorney is needed to handle the paperwork to have 40 women all show up in one location, be moved to different restaurants, trained in how to handle a work cocktail function, and to be filmed. All of these costs must be fully or partially paid before the seminar is held.
Why don't you just pay for it yourselves if you're so successful?
We’re good at what we do, good enough to be independent and able to direct our own careers. So, why aren’t we funding this by taking out a small business loan or approaching venture capitalists? First, banking regulations have tightened down a great deal. We can’t sign on the dotted line anymore and get startup capital--not even the $23,000 we’re asking for here. Second, even angel investors need guaranteed profit. We will run the seminar very close to the margin to make it accessible to as many women as possible, and keep the Coding + Confidence DVD set priced as low as possible, as well as releasing it under a Creative Commons license. This project is meant to help as many people as possible. Our goal isn't to make huge profits, though it is certainly intended to be widely publicized and popular. We would love to repeat this seminar and put on others with more advanced subjects, and to inspire others to join LadyCoders to put on even more seminars around the country and world. We will not buy into a venture capital firm that would go after women who may pirate the video. We’d love it if the ladies would pay for it, but we have the philosophy that we’re providing help to everyone, not just to those who can afford it. We will not go after desperate people for copyright violation.
Finally, and most importantly, we need to know that there’s support in the software development community at large to see real, quality mentorship brought to the women who need it. Kickstarter makes projects like this happen, and can provide the kind of publicity that we need to pull this off. We’re not just showing women that information technology is a fulfilling, independent career that melds easily with women's needs and life choices. We’re showing women that there’s real, public support to help them break into a workplace that sometimes does not appear very friendly from the outside.
We’re making this seminar available to women on our site at $499 per badge registration. Other two-day training or certification seminars like this charge thousands of dollars for much larger seminars that do not have nearly as much personal time and investment. We're keeping this small on purpose. A seminar with 2,000 participants wouldn't have much room for us to give each attendee personalized feedback. We have cut the price as much as we can to cover costs and still be able to put together both a quality seminar and a quality video, but we simply can’t do this on our own.
We’ve each individually tried to help. Tarah has filmed an instructional video and written a booklet to provide visual instruction for women on how to present themselves, serves on the Seattle Central Community College Technical Advisory Committee, and writes a blog with even more instruction. Liz has volunteered with the Plone and Grok projects and maintains 2 open source repositories on Github. Lorraine works with female entrepreneurs to help them find the resources they need to get their business started. Before we all met each other, we worked alone. Each of us exhausted her own resources and did all she could under her own power. Just a few months ago, we realized we could accomplish far more together, and formed LadyCoders.
We want to teach 40 women in person everything we’ve learned, and to film the seminar to provide this information to every woman on Earth who wants to learn. We’ll create a 4-disc DVD set, and make twenty instructional video clips available to everyone for free via streaming video. You’ll see these women gain confidence, invent projects, team up, learn to create startups and repositories, and project competence.
What happens if this Kickstarter campaign does not succeed?
We’ll still try to help.Tarah will still blog and volunteer, Liz will still code and train, and Lorraine will still instruct, but if this campaign does not succeed, we will not have the money to get the event space, pay for filming and editing, broadcast twenty free instructional clips to women around the world, provide distance education through the DVD, and pull this event off. We want to help, and we must have your help to do it.
Find out more and help us to help women everywhere.
You can monitor the project by visiting our website at ladycoders.com/kickstarter, by following us at twitter.com/ladycoders, or by joining our Facebook page at facebook.com/ladycoders. We’ll constantly be posting updates, and there’s also a signup form on our site that will let you receive email updates for the campaign. Please also spread the word to women you know who may be interested in either the DVD or in attending the seminar.
The future of women in technology belongs to you. Your help is needed, not just to make this seminar happen, but to show these women and women around the world that we do care, that the status, freedom, and independence of a solid, self-supporting technology career can be theirs. We want to be able to tell these ladies on the first day of the seminar that thousands of people have helped to fulfil their need for mentorship and want to see them succeed.
Some of our rewards!
More to come...
Yes; please add $5 for international shipping for t-shirts, DVDs, and stickers.
Our best estimate is that it will take several weeks. There may be as much as 40 hours of raw footage from possibly several cameras, and there will be special features and interviews, as well as credits (audio and screen).If we reach our 40K stretch goal, we'll be able to add another camera. That will need to be edited down into approximately eight useful hours of footage for what will probably be a 4-dvd set. After we have a rough cut, we’ll do credits, package design, and ship it off for DVD replication. We estimate that we’ll be able to start shipping DVDs no later than December 6th, and likely a lot sooner.
Even if we reach our goal, there’s still reason to keep pledging.
* At $30,000, we will drop the price of attendance by $50.
* At $40,000, we will drop the price of attendance by $100.
* At $50,000, we will drop the price of attendance by $150, as well as improving the DVD production and creating 30 videos in the free series instead of 20.
*Please note that our discount for veterans and military will always stay at $50 below the price for regular attendees.
The most important thing you can do is support women’s attendance at the seminar. We’re trying to make tickets available to all women, so pledging at the FAIRY GODPARTNER or FAIRY GODPARENT level would be wonderful. In addition, pledging at the DVD THANKS level is incredibly helpful; it gives us the ability to make a great DVD product for women who cannot attend in person.
Yes, we can offer a 10% discount for additional copies of the DVD. Just add $54 to your pledge for each extra set, and include a comment with your pledge letting us know that's what it is for.
Why did you limit the financially assisted seats, and what happens if these pledge levels are full? How many more will you release?
Because we need to make tickets available for women to purchase directly on our site at the same time as this Kickstarter campaign, we need to release financially assisted seats through Kickstarter in batches. As soon as we see that the FAIRY GODPARTNER or the FAIRY GODPARENT levels are full, we’ll add another identical level and reduce the amount of tickets available for sale on our site. We have absolutely no problem releasing all the seats for this campaign; that would be an incredible act of generosity by the community.
I have already registered for my seat at the seminar via the ladycoders.com site, and you just hit a reach goal. Will you refund the difference between the dropped price of seminar seats and what I paid?
How do I sign up to be one of the participants who gets financial assistance to attend, and how do you decide which of us gets help?
Send us an email at email@example.com to express your interest in being one of the participants who receives assistance, or use the contact form on our site. After the Kickstarter campaign is over, we'll randomly assign financial assistance to all those who have requested it. We don't have any way to tell who truly needs it, so we'll leave it up to you to ask for help if you do, and then our Mersenne twister random number generator will do the rest. Tarah's writing the RNG in Java, probably using one of the CERN libraries, so please note: she has a macaron fetish. No--seriously, this will be blind and as random as we can possibly make it, meaning java.util.Random just isn't good enough.
Use the "Manage" tool when pledging. We're a little new to this Kickstarter thing too, so if this isn't enough information, please, let us know.
YES. Please, tweet or Facebook us, link back, comment on our Facebook page, just send us an email to tell us that you support us (we'll need the encouragement!), or write a blog post. You're part of our community, and we need your help.
Absolutely. Be aware that this is focused on helping women overcome some of the communication and confidence barriers that can keep them from appearing like the best candidate when interviewing with and working with men, so straight men may not find as much value as the ladies will, especially in the first day of the seminar. If you're nontraditionally gendered, you will certainly appreciate that we're also talking about LGBT issues in the workplace, and you may discover a great deal of value.
Our DVDs will not be encoded with regional restrictions.