Design has not been as big a part of the conversation about increasing participation and diversity in tech careers. For the professionals, policymakers, and educators leading the charge for diversity, tech has primarily meant computer science and software development. Coding programs are widely available for learners at every age and career stage. The same cannot be said for design, though this is starting to change.
Few places show the lack of diversity in design and tech like conferences. It’s not uncommon to be one of a handful of brown faces in a crowd of hundreds. Obviously it’s not hard to miss each other, but are we actually connecting? And if we’re not, what’s going on?
Coding bootcamps have risen quickly as a destination for people looking to learn in-demand software engineering skills. Compared to degree programs, they are a lesser investment of time and money. Many bootcamps are also connected with employers and provide a place to source talent. While they can be a stepping stone to a tech career, that is by no means a guarantee and it requires careful navigation to make the leap from student to professional developer.
Tolu Edionwe, 22, is looking to make this leap. A 2015 graduate of Grinnell College, a liberal arts college in Iowa, she returned to her hometown of New York City and completed a three-month web development intensive course at the New York Code and Design Academy (NYCDA). Once the only girl on her high school football team, she is now taking on the notoriously male dominated software engineering industry. I spoke with her about why she chose to learn to code after completing a sociology degree, what coding school is like, and what advice she would give anyone thinking about going down the same path.