July 31, 2012
At 10am every weekday, Hackbright Academy begins with a short lecture. Students are at their desks until 6pm doing pair programming exercises – not too unusual for a coding school, but the programmers are all women.
“No one’s really afraid to ask any questions; everyone’s working together really collaboratively,” says David Phillips, who started Hackbright to bring more women into technical classes without being intimidated. “Competitiveness exists with all of us, but with men it can be a little more prominent, maybe a little more chest puffing.”
But when it’s competition time, it’s competition time: the women placed at the Aviary-Dropbox Photo Hack Day for PHOTOvoyage, and then won second place for MuniMobile at the LinkedIn DevelopHer Hackday.
Phillips couldn’t have predicted these successes from the students’ interviews, where they may have underplayed their talents. “Men have a tendency to oversell themselves and really try to say the right things to get in, whereas the women in our class are really underselling themselves and overperforming,” he says.
Hackbright students will work on a personal project starting next week, and the 10-week program culminates in a career day on August 24.
Phillips’s goal for Hackbright is to help women get technical jobs. The cofounder of Banjo, he had taken programming courses from his cofounder, Christian Fernandez – and gotten lots of job offers – and they both realized how few women were enrolled.
Hackbright costs $6,000, and the deadline for the fall application is August 15.
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