Shecodes Australia founder Kate Kirwin, and her team are on a mission to train help 100,000 women up their tech game and enter technical careers by 2025.
Shecodes Australia is a movement that brings women and non-binary individuals together with mentors and corporate sponsors through a series of events and workshops that teach coding to all skill levels. Since starting in 2015, Shecodes has grown from running a couple of one day workshops throughout the year in Perth to hosting events and programs that last up to 6 months. With workshops opening in Port Headland and Brisbane and an eye on other eastern cities, Shecodes is charging towards their ambitious target.
Untitled Perth got to sit down with the founder, Kate Kirwin and chat about Shecodes Australia, how she got started, why 100,000 women, partnering with BHP and about her semi-professional hoola-hooping career.
Kate is smashing the outdated stereotype of there being no women in tech and Shecodes represents the inclusive, diverse nature of the Perth startup scene and a future path for many women wanting tech training to enter the Australian workforce.
Coming from a non-technical background, Kate began Shecodes out of curiosity and a desire to learn.
“When I was looking around, I couldn’t find any [coding] communities that were friendly to women or friendly to beginners. So, we started this as beginner-friendly, female-friendly activity.”
The demand for female focused coding workshops became significantly apparent, where now, Shecodes events often sell out and even has a waiting list.
“Our last program sold out in about 3 or 4 hours with nearly double the amount of people who were interested. I get told all the time that ‘there’s no women in tech because women don’t want to learn to code’, and that’s totally untrue. There are hundreds of women out there that are keen to learn, they just need to be given those types of opportunities.”
Shecodes growth has been accelerated by the amazing reception and support they’ve received from some of their corporate sponsors. With BHP cold emailing Kate one day and working together closely to develop programs.
“They [BHP] have been with us every step of the journey now, suggesting kind of ways that we can strengthen the partnership and increase the partnership. And we’ve built a program together; the Shecodes Plus program.”
The increasing demand for individuals with coding and tech skills, and competition between government and private sectors looking to entice emerging talent, means initiatives like Shecodes are vital to the talent pool in Perth and Australia.
“Our super, crazy ambitious goal is [to train] 100,000 women… Where that number comes from, if anyone’s curious, is that there’s a study saying we need 200,000 more people in tech by 2025 for Australia to remain globally competitive as a country. So, we were looking at that statistic and thinking, wouldn’t it be amazing if half of those were women.”
Despite taking on the challenge to literally fill half the gap in Australia’s tech talent pool over the next few years, Kate Kirwin still finds time to put on a variety of other hats. Being a part of Spacecubed team, Kate hosts many of the Perth startup community events including Plus Eight and Startup Weekend. Not to mention her work with Women in Technology WA (WiTWA), the female founder orientated venture fund, SheEO and her semi-professional Hoola-Hooping career.
Kate’s energy, success and genuine desire to help others hasn’t gone unnoticed, and she was this year awarded a 40 under 40 award before even reaching her 30’s. Although it’s the people to people rewards that really drive Kate forward.
“I know it sounds really corny, but I want to leave the world better than I found it and to have that kind of legacy of impact and have that purpose in the world. And I want to work with really good people, so having like-minded people around and kind of building those relationships and just seeing them grow, that’s super motivating for me.”
Watch the full interview here for much more insights from Kate Kirwin than we can fit into an article.