This week SwitchUp sat down with our own Sam Kapila, Director of Instruction, to talk more about the #YesWeCode Fund and The Iron Yard’s diversity initiatives. Sam was a participant in the panel at SXSW where the Fund was launched, and leads our internal diversity council. See an excerpt from her interview below:
Why is diversity and inclusion important for the tech industry
Sam: Tech impacts just about every facet of our life – from how we communicate, travel and work, to how we learn and socialize. It only makes sense that the creators of technology, reflect the users of technology. Not to mention, study after study has shown that diversity is good for business.
Right now, industry statistics are pretty abysmal: Compared to overall private industry, the high tech sector employs a larger share of whites (63.5 percent to 68.5 percent), Asian Americans (5.8 percent to 14 percent) and men (52 percent to 64 percent), and a smaller share of African Americans (14.4 percent to 7.4 percent), Hispanics (13.9 percent to 8 percent), and women (48 percent to 36 percent).
I know we can do better. In order to make a true impact, this issue has to be addressed at all levels – from education and training to hiring practices. That’s where the #YesWeCode Fund comes in.
Why was it so important for The Iron Yard to help launch this Fund?
Sam: We take diversity and inclusion seriously at The Iron Yard. As an organization that exists to create change through technology education, we have a responsibility to take action to ensure the workforce we help train is inclusive and representative of the diverse communities we serve. Empowering people of all backgrounds and means with the opportunity to learn to code, and subsequently pursue a career in tech, is an important step in the right direction for creating a more inclusive workforce.
As a company, we recognized that we were in a position to help make this happen, so it was really important for us to lead the way and organize other schools and organizations, so that we can make strides toward this goal together..
Who is this Fund intended to support?
Sam: The Fund is intended to support groups that are commonly discriminated against in tech: people of color and people who identify as female. Access to tech can be expensive, so we want to make the Fund’s scholarships available to those with financial need and lower their barrier of entry into the development field.