Girl Develop It CoFounder Sara Chipps On Shaping Tech Culture To Include Women


Oh mother dear we’re not the fortunate ones
And girls they want to have fun
Oh girls just want to have fun

– Cyndi Lauper, “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”

Sara Chipps has spent a lot of time working in and thinking about tech culture. She is cofounder of Girl Develop It, a system of low-cost software development classes geared toward women (but guys are welcome too). GDI classes are judgement-free, for total beginners who want to take their first few steps into the world of software development.
Sara recently left her role as CTO of Levo League to focus on getting Girl Develop It’s board and 501(c)(3) status together. Levo League is a professional community for Generation Y women.

In this podcast with some of the most thoughtful people in tech, including Joel Spolsky, Sara shares what she’s learned about tech culture and women, and how companies that are interested in reaping the benefits of a diverse tech team can shape their culture to both attract and retain women members.

This is important stuff, culture. Women are not going to stick around a company with a culture that feels unwelcoming. What makes a culture friendly or unfriendly isn’t necessarily a matter of just frowning upon misogyny or required training on preventing sexual assault. (Duh.) It’s pretty hard to see your own company culture from the inside out and understand how it could better support and encourage gender diversity. People like Sara can help.

Here’s a fascinating stat share by Chipps during this podcast:  In 1984, 37% of CS degrees went to women. In 1998, it was 34%. In 2010-11, it was 12%. That’s not progress.

I’m just a girl,
Take a good look at me
Just your typical prototype
Oh…I’ve had it up to here!
Oh…am I making myself clear?

– No Doubt, “Just A Girl”