“About two years ago, I attended a Women Who Code meetup in Washington, D.C.,” says Veni Kunche, founder of Code With Veni and a senior software developer with the U.S. Geological Survey. “I was blown away by the support that this community was providing to women who were just getting started in their journey in tech. I wish I had such support when I started my career as a software developer in 2003.”
The career path of a woman in tech, Kunche thinks, can be lonely. “Sometimes being in a room full of men whether it’s at work or a in a classroom can make you feel like the odd one out, as though you don’t belong there,” she says. “It is important for women to know that they are not alone.”
That’s why, around the world, women software engineers have started all sorts of local organizations to support each other. Finding one of these organizations has mostly been a matter of word of mouth or surfing the web; Kunche found out about the Washington, D.C., group through a listing on Meetup.com.
Image: Code With Veni
Kunche decided she could help bring women in tech together simply by making it easier to find these support groups. Three months ago, she started creating a list by looking at the web sites of the main multi-chapter organizations, including Girl Develop It, Duchess, Lesbians Who Tech, PyLadies, RailsBridge, Rails Girls, Ladies Learning Code, and Women Who Code. And she then turned to crowdsourcing to gather more information about less well-known communities. She’s identified about 500 around the world so far, and is adding more every week. She’s put them together into an interactive map; you can zoom in to a community, browse the available groups, and click through to their individual web sites for more information. (If you know of an organization that isn’t yet on the map, you can report it to her here.)
A few examples:
- In Silicon Valley and the surrounding communities, there are: PyLadies, Women’s Startup Lab, Girl Develop It, Lesbians Who Tech East Bay, RailsBridge San Francisco, and 14 others.
- In Mexico, there are Women Who Code Colima, Lesbians Who Tech Mexico City, and two others.
- In Africa, there are Duchess Africa, Rails Girls Maputo, Women Techmakers Chlef, and nine others.
- In Vietnam, there are So Gal Ho Chi Minh City and Rail Girls Da Nang.
- In Poland, there are PyLadies Poland, Geek Girls Carrots, Rail Girls Silesia, and seven others.
Kunche plans on making her interactive map more useful by allowing viewers to break out different categories of organization, to easily spot groups that focus on a specific programming language, or offer mentorship, or help entrepreneurs.
Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.