ALLY WAT­SON, 29

Cosmopolitan (Australia) - - Work -

Co-founder and CEO of tech com­pany Code Like a Girl How did you come up with the busi­ness idea?

‘I have a Com­puter Science de­gree and had been work­ing as a de­vel­oper for six years when I moved to Mel­bourne. I wanted to get up­to­date with the in­dus­try but all the meet­ups were heav­ily male­dom­i­nated and I felt re­ally in­tim­i­dated. I fig­ured other women must be go­ing through the same thing, so in Au­gust 2015, I asked my boss if I could host a wine night for women in tech at our of­fice. Within two weeks of putting the event on­line I had over 100 RSVPs – and I re­alised I was onto some­thing.’

What was the next step?

‘The big­gest thing for me was making the events reg­u­lar so I could build up a com­mu­nity, and making them free or low cost so any­one could come along and learn.’

When did you de­cide to start of­fer­ing cod­ing classes? ‘Speak­ing to women at the events, I re­alised lots of them wanted to get into tech but didn’t have the skills to do so. I asked a bunch of suc­cess­ful fe­males in the tech world to vol­un­teer their time and got them to host free work­shops. They were such a suc­cess we started hold­ing them at schools with girls from grade one through to 12.’

How do you fund the events? ‘First I just got com­pa­nies to cover the cost of food, but my time and ef­fort was not be­ing paid for, so I couldn’t grow the busi­ness. I part­nered with a friend, Vanessa Doake, who has a back­ground in HR and helped re­model my fund­ing struc­ture. Now com­pa­nies pay a 12­month sub­scrip­tion to come along to our events, get to know our com­mu­nity and pro­mote their busi­ness.’

What’s been the hard­est part? ‘Work­ing two jobs and try­ing to bal­ance a so­cial life at the same time was re­ally tough, es­pe­cially when all my family was so far away in Scot­land. De­spite all that, hear­ing a young girl say she loves cod­ing makes it all worth it.’

IN­SPIR­ING FEL­LOW CODERS.

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