A new scholarship offered to under-represented groups in the tech sector will address an industry-wide problem: there are too many straight white men in software development.
Enspiral Dev Academy, an 18 week boot camp that teaches people the fundamentals of web development, is offering two scholarships worth $2000 each.
One is reserved for Maori and Pasifika applicants and the other for women and nonbinary gender identities. Applications close April 19.
Rohan Wakefield, who founded Enspiral Dev Academy three years ago, said the fact that software engineering was largely built by “straight white men” created a culture that was scared of diversity.
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“If you go into computer science year one at a university, there’s a whole lot of nerdy introverted males, God bless them, but they’re not going to get work in tech and they are the problem in tech right now,” Wakefield said.
“The great thing is that the tech sector knows this, most of the companies that we work with want to change this.”
Wakefield said the programme was reaching about 40 per cent of women, and 10 per cent Maori and Pasifika students, which was not good enough.
He wants to see the cohorts in the programme get up to 50-60 per cent women, and 20-25 per cent Maori and Pasifika.
What Wakefield looks for in applicants surprisingly has nothing to do with how well they can code.
After sitting down with 40 companies to find out what the academy should be training students, Wakefield found there was a “very united voice” from the industry.
The industry was more interested in attracting people with passion, the ability to learn, negotiate, empathise and motivate others, and those with strong team skills.
“When we collected all this info, we were like, ‘what about coding?’ and the tech companies responded, ‘we can teach people that’.”