The State of Tech
While women are a significant audience for tech innovation — 56% of the professional workforce, 55% of social media users, and 60% of social gamers — less than 25% of software developers are women.
Women of color are more severely underrepresented: 3% of female software developers are Black, 2% are Hispanic/Latinx, and 5% are Asian.
In addition, women are not getting promoted as often or as quickly as men and they are leaving the workforce in higher numbers. According to a 2015 survey done by the National Center for Women in Technology (NCWIT), 31% of women feel stuck and unsupported in their careers, and 56% of women quit their jobs by mid-career, within 10 years. Furthermore, only 11% of executive positions in tech are held by women.
Why Ada Started
“I started self-teaching [myself to code,] and it was a really lonely experience. … Lack of demand isn’t the problem … everyone deserves this. But with the systemic inequities there just aren’t as many options for women to get into this.”Ada Developers Academy co-founder Elise Worthy
Elise Worthy partnered with Scott Case who was frustrated at the difficulty of hiring a diverse group of software developers. Together they co-founded Ada Developers Academy in 2013, initially as a project of the Technology Alliance, with the following key principles: the program would be tuition-free to attract and retain the highest potential students regardless of financial means; a six-month immersion curriculum that was far deeper than other “boot camp” programs to better prepare students for developer jobs; and integrating a five-month internship into the program to facilitate the transition into the workforce.
One of Ada’s most unique attributes is the fact that it is tuition-free.
“We knew we couldn’t have people working on the side so we created a model that isn’t only tuition-free but we also give you a stipend so you can live and not have to have another job while you’re going through this big immersion experience … so that was the challenge.”Ada Developers Academy co-founder Scott Case
Since Ada opened its doors to our first cohort, tech companies have been enthusiastic about our vision, and are critical partners to keeping Ada truly tuition-free.
Growing a Community
The mission of Ada Developers Academy is to diversify tech by providing women and gender-expansive people the skills, experience, and community support to become professional software developers to change the face of tech.
In its first year in 2013, Ada supported 16 students. Although we were a tuition-free program, we still observed barriers for our students to attend the program. In response, we developed the Ada Loan Fund, a low-interest loan program collateralized in special partnership with Craft 3 to support student living costs during the classroom portion of the program.
By Cohort 3 in 2015, Ada became a project of fiscal sponsor TSNE Mission Works based in Boston, Massachusetts, to support our organizational growth.
In 2016, Ada realized the need to develop a program that met the intersectionality of our students’ identities to succeed in the tech industry. This resulted in changing our practices around admissions and programming to create a holistically inclusive learning environment. In Cohort 6, Ada expanded from 24 to 48 students per cohort. In 2016, Ada became the recipient of the TechHire grant, a Department of Labor initiative aimed to fill the growing number of open tech jobs.
Today, Ada graduates 96 Adies (our students and graduates are lovingly referred to as Adies!) per cohort twice a year. To date, Ada Developers Academy has created $38M in new salaries in the tech industry generated by 400+ women and gender-expansive software developers. As we look ahead we are excited to expand our services and share our impact.