Why the end of Women Who Code (WWC) is a critical moment for diversity in tech


The non-profit organization Women Who Code (WWC) has recently announced its closure due to a lack of funding. Founded in 2011 in San Francisco, it would evolve into a global community of over 360,000 members scattered across 145 countries within a decade. Over its 13-year existence, WWC hosted an incredible 20,000 events and distributed $3.5 million in scholarships.

The most recent annual report for 2022 revealed that Women Who Code generated nearly $4 million, with expenses slightly exceeding this at just under $4.2 million. Despite significant achievements, the organization emphasized that its mission remains unfulfilled, aiming for a tech industry where diverse women and historically excluded people thrive at every level.

The big question is: how could a platform that empowers women to connect, learn, and advance in a career in technology be allowed to fail? Despite its measurable impact on the industry and the ongoing need for such initiatives, the organization has struggled financially. These recent events again show that despite many tech leaders saying the right thing, there is no hiding away from the fact there is insufficient financial support for diversity-focused programs in the tech industry.

Funding the future: the critical need for supporting women in tech

The end of WWC immediately removes opportunities for women who have found mentorship, skills development, and professional growth through the organization's extensive network and resources. This closure highlights the need for ongoing support and investment in programs that empower underrepresented groups. Ultimately, it’s about ensuring they have the resources needed to succeed.

Without this support, the industry cannot maintain the progress toward equality and unlock the innovation potential that diverse perspectives bring to the sector. But sadly, this problem is much bigger than the WWC story.

The stark reality of female VCs and gender washing

Venture capital, an industry pivotal in shaping the future of innovation, stands at a crossroads with gender equality. In-depth analysis and emerging discussions reveal a troubling trend known as 'gender washing'—where the appearance of gender diversity masks the enduring dominance of men in influential positions.

Despite the veneer of inclusivity, female entrepreneurs and venture capitalists encounter substantial barriers that hinder their access to critical funding and decision-making roles. This systemic issue perpetuates a cycle of underrepresentation and stifles the diversity of thought necessary for breakthrough innovations.

The narrative that female-led ventures are risky investments continues to erode. Evidence mounting shows that these enterprises often deliver robust returns, challenging the biases that skew funding away from them. To genuinely transform the landscape, the venture capital sector must move beyond superficial measures and implement substantial changes that ensure women have equal opportunities to influence and succeed in this dynamic arena.

The illusion of inclusion: how AI-generated speakers highlight tech's gender gap

A quick look around the audience members at any tech conference will often reveal a "sea of tech bros," but this also puts gender disparities under the spotlight more than any new tech announcement. Recent scandals, such as a conference using AI-generated female speakers to fake diversity, underscore the profound issues at play.

The widespread reports of sexism at these events, as highlighted in the Web Summit's State of Gender Equity report, paint a disheartening picture of the challenges women continue to face in these environments. These are just a couple of examples that highlight the critical need for a reevaluation of conference practices and a concerted effort to not only include but empower women to ensure their insights and expertise are recognized on these influential platforms.

Flattening hierarchies: the role of women in decentralized governance

The launch of the world's first female-led decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) represents an inspiring change across the tech industry. This initiative aims to flatten traditional power hierarchies and grant equal decision-making authority to all members, particularly empowering rural Indian women through innovative projects like the solar pad bitcoin project.

By integrating women into the burgeoning field of cryptocurrency and focusing on sustainable, impactful projects, the DAO challenges the industry's status quo and models a more inclusive, equitable approach to technological development. This effort highlights the potential for decentralized systems to foster fairness. It emphasizes the critical need for educational outreach to bring more women into tech, paving the way for a balanced and diverse industry landscape.

A call to action: sustaining diversity efforts after Women Who Code

The closure of Women Who Code is not just the end of an era – it's a clarion call to the tech industry to prioritize and protect diversity initiatives that have proven their worth in elevating women in technology.

Despite the setbacks, the seeds that organizations like WWC have sown are sprouting in initiatives worldwide, as seen in She Codes in Australia and numerous others. These groups are crucial for reducing the persistent gender gap in technology and fostering the inclusive environments necessary for true innovation.

As the tech industry evolves, it is essential that support for such initiatives does not dwindle but increases, ensuring that the strides made towards equality and diversity are not only preserved but also expanded.

Let this moment be a rallying cry for industry leaders and investors alike: the future of tech should be innovative and inclusively shaped by the diverse voices that truly represent our society.