Seattle women in tech work together to make industry more inclusive

SEATTLE — The Seattle Women Who Code chapter is empowering women to excel and increase representation on all levels in the tech industry.

Seattle is known to be one of the largest and fastest-growing tech hubs, attracting top tech talent from around the world. However, when it comes to representation, women hold only 25% of tech jobs, despite making up more than half of the country’s workforce.

“I feel it’s important for me to represent tech, that as a woman I want to bring my concerns forward, and I want the industry to work for me while I work for the industry,” said Apple software engineer Ritika Nevatia.

Nevatia, along with Google UX researcher and manager Heidi Toussaint and data scientist machine learning engineer Kira Helm, are all part of the Women Who Code Seattle chapter, connected to a global network of nearly a quarter-million women working together to improve diversity and inclusion in the tech industry.

In a recent Women Who Code discussion celebrating International Women’s Day, the organization encouraged members to call out inequality as they work collectively to create a more inclusive space, which can start at an early age when girls are in elementary school.

“Even in school, there are fewer and fewer girls in classes like software engineering, math and physics, and so already you might feel a bit isolated,” said Toussaint.

Once women enter the tech workforce, they typically leave at a higher rate compared to other industries.

“I’ve seen women who are afraid to give feedback to their bosses and people above them, and therefore they kind of stagger behind or stay behind because they are afraid to speak up for themselves,” said Helm.

Women Who Code offers a support network of tech professionals at every level that provides guidance for women navigating the different challenges they face in the industry.

“I have a 3-year-old and 7-week-old. It’s so motivating to know that there are other people who may look up to me, and so part of that is what drives me to even volunteer for women who code in particular. You know during the pandemic, so many mothers have left the workplace, and I am so so passionate about being women in tech,” said Toussaint.

Women Who Code is an inclusive community offering career advice, mentoring and opportunities to advance their skills.

“Even having things like study events and panels of different women who talk about their experience and how they got to where they were, all of that has been extremely instrumental for me and my career,” said Helm.

They are paving the way for future generations to thrive and increase the diversity of the hiring pool.

“You allow the younger generation to look up and say, ‘this person looks like me, and this person is doing what I want to do, and it’s not abnormal for me to want to do the same thing,’” said Nevatia.

This ultimately sets the stage for a tech world that will reflect the unique voices of the community they serve.

“When you consider the products that we are building, ... you as a woman bring a diverse perspective to the table, you can bring a more inclusive perspective to that table. Your voice is so important,” said Toussaint.

For information on Women Who Code, visit https://www.womenwhocode.com/