Angular U Women's Initiative Contest Winner Announced

A few weeks ago we launched our contest to send a passionate female coder to Angular U in San Francisco. Today we’re pleased to announce the deserving winner!

Reading time: 4 minutes
Date published
June 19, 2015

A few weeks ago we launched our contest to send a passionate female coder to Angular U in San Francisco. Today we’re pleased to announce the deserving winner!

Cue the drumroll…

Meet Elise Worthy, who is the co-founder and technical director of Ada Developers Academy, a women’s-only tuition-free coding school in Seattle that was founded as a non-profit org in 2013.

Elise will join fellow AngularJS developers in San Francisco at Angular U on June 22-23, with her flight and accommodation on us, and her ticket provided by our friends at Angular U.

Congratulations to all who entered! There were over 140 inspirational entries, making the decision a difficult one. After deliberations, we felt that Elise was the best candidate because not only will she personally benefit from attending the conference, but most importantly, she will be able to give back to the community through her work at the academy. Her work at Ada Developers Academy and her knowledge of the issues facing women in the industry are impressive and motivational.

We caught up with Elise to hear more about what she thinks of AngularJS, learn about her work and the challenges facing female developers, plus get recommendations on what companies can do to tip the gender balance.

What attracts you most to the AngularJS framework and to JavaScript? What makes it most compelling for students at your school?

Ada primarily teaches Ruby and Rails, but increasingly we’re seeing companies asking for students to learn JavaScript, so we’ve adjusted our curriculum to provide more JavaScript training, and I think that trend will continue. Angular has really emerged as a framework that many people are using, and I’m now hearing about Angular more than anything else. One of our students did her capstone project in Angular and then after graduating from our school came back to teach new students AngularJS.

What do you hope to learn at Angular U to share with your students?

I have spent the last few years running the school more than writing code, so I’m actually excited as I’m now transitioning into a technical role again, to build up my dev skills in Angular. Seeing Angular 2.0 evolve shows that it has grown a lot and it is becoming more common for businesses to use. I’d like to pick up some resources to share with the students and encourage our school to work more with Angular development in the classroom.

What was your professional experience like in the tech industry, before you started Ada Developers Academy?

I always worked with engineers and software developers and I was always jealous of how they could understand things more deeply than I could. So, in 2010 I taught myself how to do basic programming. Then I got into Hungry Academy which was started by Living Social, where I was paid to learn how to be a developer… Following the program, I was employed in a couple of software development jobs and then I started Ada.

What events catalyzed the founding of the academy?

My co-founder Scott Case came up with the idea for Ada because he was responsible for hiring and couldn’t find enough female engineers and wanted more on his team. When he asked what I thought about doing a boot camp for women, I said ‘I’m in’ and so I stopped everything I was doing to start the school. In my career previously, learning how to program was lonely because often I was the least experienced person in the room, and often the only woman. Starting Ada gave me the ability to create something that I would have used myself.

Washington is a really interesting place for tech. We’ve got many tech companies here, and it’s home to Microsoft, Expedia and others, and when we founded this school there were 20,000 unfilled STEM jobs, and the majority were in software development. By starting the school in Seattle we could help provide engineering talent and also ensure that there were women working as developers.

Despite best intentions to hire female developers, many companies find it hard. Can you elaborate on some of the systemic issues facing female developers and the industry?

There’s a pipeline problem. there aren’t enough women and girls learning programming in school and so that causes a lack of women in the field to pick from. There are also systemic problems that cause women to leave programming… Not just overt sexism, but also the small biases that teams can have that make women potentially feel uncomfortable.

Do you think there are more women entering coding schools now and getting active in the software developer communities?

I see more gender parity at community events. It’s so cool to go to user groups and different events because even if a dozen Ada students go that can shift the balance. But I think a lot more can be done. Ada is only able to admit ten percent of the women who apply. That means 90% of the women who apply have to find another method of learning and getting jobs as developers. There are many ways to support women who want to get into development.

What do you recommend companies do to support women who code?

If you’re not in Seattle and you can’t work with Ada, then I recommend making sure that your development team is equipped to handle diversity. Make sure that people feel welcome, no matter what they look like, whether male or female. Then make sure that the board or leadership is onboard, and then host an internship program so you can allow students to get on your team through a non-traditional path.

Here at we look forward to continuing to support women in the industry however possible and creating more initiatives to promote gender diversity within the company. This summer, we’re thrilled to be co-hosting a Women Who Code TO workshop with two of our developers, Christine Davis and Abdella Ali, who will be leading an intro to AngularJS workshop. Stay Tuned here for details! Also, if you’re a woman who codes, we encourage you to take a look at our job listings, and consider a role with us.


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