Last year we taught 18 students, only two of whom were women. Our aim is 50% so that was pretty bad. But I think that if you’ve got the right attitude and you’re honestly trying hard to do the right thing, a setback like this shouldn’t stop you from moving forward.
In other words, we ran the 2017 Global Code program knowing we’d have to work harder next year, which is where we are.
In 2017 we accepted 8 women (all the female applicants) to the program. On day 1 only two of them turned up. I asked Josh to approach the others and ask if they’d consider joining class, but none did.
After the program ended, I asked Josh to approach those applicants again and see if there was anything about the program we could change to make it more appealing to women: to carefully find out if we’d done anything wrong.
The answers can be grouped into three:
- The applicants had chores at home that couldn’t be left undone.
- The applicants weren’t sure what time of day the program would be running.
- The applicants weren’t sure they could find safe accommodation for the program.
Ultimately, there’s not a lot we can do about the first issue. People have responsibilities and were asking for a commitment to fifteen days of a students summer holidays; that’s a big ask.
The second issue is easy to fix: we put the class times on our advertising. We work 9-12 and 1-4. We don’t let anyone stay in class over lunch or after the end of the day, so people are free to leave and there’s no preferential treatment for those whose schedules are more flexible. And we don’t assign homework.
Finally, to solve the third issue we approached our host universities and asked them to provide free on campus accommodation for our female students. I’m very grateful that they all graciously accepted, and I’d like to thank the faculty of KTU, UCC and UG for so kindly accommodating (literally!) our female applicants.
Applications are still coming in and we hope that 2018 is our first program with gender parity amongst our students.
Issues we’re still working on:
- Currently 25% of our volunteer staff are women. We’re actively recruiting women and PoC staff for next year and working on funding their trip (~£2k each)
- Last year the tshirts we gave to students were pretty crummy. We’re working with a Ghanaian textiles importer to get good quality brandable apparel from a Californian supplier.
- I just bought 13 return flights to Ghana, I’m hoping to make Global Code carbon neutral in 2019
- We give each student a Raspberry Pi 3B to use in class and let them take it as a gift when the program is over. It’s got an HDMI port so not many of our students are able to use them at home – again, we checked. So next year I’m hoping to add an HDMI/VGA adapter to our hardware buy.