Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots

488: Women Who Code with Alaina Percival

August 17th, 2023

Alaina Percival is the Co-Founder and CEO of Women Who Code, with a mission to empower diverse women to excel in technology careers.

Alaina delves into the origin and mission of Women Who Code, highlighting its community building, free technical events, and collaboration with companies to promote diversity in hiring. Victoria adds her personal experience with the organization, emphasizing its positive impact on her career.

They discuss the challenges faced while expanding Women Who Code, including the need for systems and processes to manage growth. Alaina recounts stories of discrimination faced by women in tech and stresses the need for continued support and encouragement. The conversation also touches on the financial benefits of diversity and the alignment of Valor Ventures with Women Who Code's values.

This discussion offers a detailed look into the women in tech movement, the importance of community, and the drive to create a more equitable industry. It serves as a reflection on both the strides made in fostering diversity and the work still needed to create a truly inclusive technology field.


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WILL: This is the Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots Podcast, where we explore the design, development, and business of great products. I'm your host, Will Larry.

VICTORIA: And I'm your other host, Victoria Guido. And with me today is Alaina Percival, Venture Partner at Valor Ventures and Co-Founder and CEO of Women Who Code, with a mission to empower diverse women to excel in technology careers. Alaina, thank you for joining us.

ALAINA: Thank you so much for having me. I'm thrilled to be here.

VICTORIA: I'm thrilled to have you as well. I reached out. As you know, I was previously a Director of Women Who Code D.C. and helped to organize our DevOps and cloud series when I lived there. And it really had a huge impact on my career. So, I'm just super psyched to talk to you today. What's going on in your world, Alaina?

ALAINA: So, in addition to my full-time job of working with Women Who Code, I'm also a mom of two young children, and so they're currently three and five. And so, it's summer. We've got summer camp. Every week is a different program with different details and things that you have to read and stay up on. It's a lot of additional project management added on over the summer. I'm looking forward to getting back to the school year, where I can kind of focus on just one role.

WILL: That's amazing. And I can totally relate because I have a four, a three, and a one-year-old. Yes, it's a different story when you have to, like you said, project manage around them. So, that's amazing that you're wearing so many hats, and you're doing that. Hats off to you.

ALAINA: Same to you. [laughter]

WILL: Victoria, what about you? What's going on in your world?

VICTORIA: Well, it is summertime at the beach, so all the kids are out. [laughs] It's busy. But that means that you know, the weather is warming up. It's tempting to try to go surfing again, so we'll see if that ends up happening anytime soon. But no, I'm hanging out. I'm local. I'm kind of done traveling for a little bit, so not until I go out to Outer Banks to visit my baby niece and nephew in August. So that's where I'm at right now. I'm kind of hunkered in trying to survive without air conditioning here and get through the summer. [laughs]

WILL: You don't have AC?

VICTORIA: I do not. Yeah, there's a lot of houses around here just never were built with it. I have heat, but I have no air conditioning.

ALAINA: Are you being hit with the heat wave that's happening?

VICTORIA: Yes. But it's still very mild. We're spoiled here for sure on weather.

WILL: [laughs]

VICTORIA: It's like 77, and I'm like, ugh, it's so hot. [laughs]

WILL: I'm in Florida, and it amazes me. So, I got up early, around 7:00 o'clock, to go out for a run, and it's, like, 87 degrees. And it feels like almost 100 at 7:00 a.m. And I'm like --


WILL: How? [laughs] Like, the sun is barely out, and it's already reaching 100. So yeah.

ALAINA: I feel you. I'm in Atlanta. Yesterday, I had an in-person meeting. Typically, we're entirely remote. So, I was wearing real pants [laughs], and it was a hard day. We're not quite as hot as Florida. We are in the low 90s. But yeah, this weather is for real.

WILL: Yes. [laughter]

VICTORIA: That is the...yeah, working in person again in a hot climate. [laughs] I forgot the challenges of that of, like, trying to navigate life while having to be fully clothed is difficult in that kind of weather. So, I'm glad. I hope you all find some ways to stay cool and to entertain your children [laughs] so that you have some sanity and can get through the summer. I've also been really interested in the European model of just taking five weeks off in the summer. Doesn't that sound nice?

WILL: Yes. [laughs]

ALAINA: Yeah. I started my career off in Germany. I worked for Puma. Their headquarters is right outside of Nuremberg in a town called Herzogenaurach. And people really do take the whole month off August. And, in fact, you would even separate out the salaries. So, you got something called urlaubsgeld, which was vacation money. So, you would get kind of a little bonus going into August, and then everybody would take off. So, I agree with you. We should be doing that.

VICTORIA: Yeah, we should be doing that. And I'm so excited. Maybe we can segue into, like, your background and how you got started. How did you go from there to founding Women Who Code?

ALAINA: Yeah, so after working at Puma, I somewhat came back to the United States. I did a dual degree program, an MBA where I was studying between Atlanta, so I could get back in the United States, spend some time with my family, and then also the Sorbonne in Paris. And I did an MBA and a degree in organizational management, Master's in organizational management.

Then I went to work for really small ones, performance wear company. And that was more, like, a startup because you really had to think outside of the box. You know, you're a small $10 million a year company, and Nike and Mizuno, you know, these big companies are your competitors.

So, I had the opportunity to move out to San Francisco. It was one of the cities that was always on my list of, hey, if you get a chance to do it, go for it. And I did. So, I moved out there, and I kind of hit a bit of a wall with my career, an unexpected wall because up until that point, I had just this really, you know, successful early career. I got out there, and they're, like, Puma. You know, you haven't worked for Microsoft, or Twitter, or Facebook, or Google. Who are you?

So, I started learning to code just to transition my skill set to help me understand the culture and the language and just getting more involved in the tech community. And I was still struggling a little bit in figuring out my transition pathway and got more and more involved with Women Who Code and started, you know, spending my nights and weekends.

And finally, I was at a small startup that had gotten acquired, so I had my official tech credibility. And I went to work for one of the top technical recruiting firms, executive recruiting firms in the Bay Area, as their head of developer outreach. And I largely chose that role because they were allowing me to run their philanthropic arm, and I focused that around supporting underrepresented communities, you know, get a leg up in the tech community. And then, while I was there, I was working with CTOs, vice presidents of engineering, directors of engineering on a day-to-day basis.

And I started learning what they were doing in their career to help develop and cultivate the success that they were having, and I started bringing that knowledge and programming into Women Who Code. And that's where our mission around seeing diverse women excel in technology careers came about is, you know, that piece of retaining and seeing diverse women excelling was an area that wasn't really the focus at the time. And I feel like it sounds funny now because it's such a big piece of conversation. But that was the beginning.

VICTORIA: Yeah, it's so interesting that your experience from being in a startup and then how you moved up into being really involved in the hiring and the process of how anyone would actually, like, move up in their career led you to have that background to found Women Who Code. And for people who maybe don't know, [laughs] no, I certainly know what it is. Can you talk a little bit more about what it offers to women and what it offers to companies who are looking to hire diverse women?

ALAINA: For individuals, we are the largest and most active community of diverse technologists. We have close to 350,000 members. We're serving members across 147 countries. And we're producing close to 2,000 free technical events every single year, so that's about an average of 5 per day.

Once those events take place, if you happen to miss them if you happen to not be in a location where they're having them in person, we're putting a lot of that on our YouTube channel. So, you can go back when you have time, when you're available, still invest in yourself and learn some of these technical and career-related skills.

You can also, you know, when you think about, say, the 2,000 talks that are being delivered at Women Who Code, the majority of them are being led by and delivered by diverse technologists. So, we're creating role models and helping people who are on their career path have a sense of belonging, see a pathway to success. People who are thinking about the career path see themselves represented as thought leaders, as leaders in the tech industry. And that sense of belonging, that sense of drive, is just so important to be able to continue on in your career.

But we work with companies. So, Women Who Code is dedicated to accessibility. All of our programming is free or scholarship accessible. And so, what we do is we work with companies, and we do this for two reasons: for programmatic reasons. Because we know that if companies develop strong diversity, equity, and inclusion, and belonging practices, that we will reach our mission and vision so much faster than if we work with every individual in the world. But it also creates an opportunity for us to be able to support the community.

So, we work with companies to sponsor Women Who Code to donate to support Women Who Code's programming. We have our first-ever walk coming up, so a walk, run, roll called Women Who Code to the Finish Line. And we're going to be having that in September of this year. And that's going to be an opportunity for the stakeholders. You know, often, people who aren't in our community but absolutely support us say, "How can we help?" And so, companies can form teams and go and walk, run, roll to change the face of the tech industry.

Right now, we're also in a position where the tech industry has been doing a lot of layoffs, so there's a lot of instability. And so, when that happens, our programming thrives. So, people are coming to our events in high numbers. People are participating in our programming. People are visiting our job board. It's the time when companies are stepping back and pulling back on their funding and things like that.

So, I just encourage every single company to...if you have a great technical job open, make sure you're sharing it with the Women Who Code community because we have incredible technologists. They deserve access to companies that are willing to support them and the best roles that are available in the industry today.

WILL: Alaina, I just want to honestly and truly say this, what you're doing is amazing. Having a background in nonprofit, over 140 companies, over 300,000 in your membership, and it's an international nonprofit. It's truly amazing what you're doing and helping women find their role and help them become better.

I'm truly just blown away by, you know, you started in September 2011, so you're coming up on 12 years this year. And just 12 years as a nonprofit and doing this, share with us how was it received at the very beginning? Because I feel like that was a different time that we're in right now.

ALAINA: Yeah, it started off as a meetup, just a community group in San Francisco. And it was incredible. It felt like our little secret. And we were spending time together. We were learning. We were building connections. And just it was this incredible community. And then, the world started talking about, hey, we need to teach girls to code. We need to teach women to code. And we were this community of people in the industry. Our average age at Women Who Code is 30, so 50% of our members are currently in technical roles.

So, we had this moment of, hey, we need to elevate the voice of those who are in the industry right now, alongside teaching girls to code and teaching women to code. Because if you miss out on that, it actually becomes a threat to the women in the industry who, every time you hear "Teach women to code," you're saying she doesn't already know how to do it. And we had so many people in our community who already did and already had to kind of prove themselves on a regular basis or constantly underestimated.

In the early years, a Women Who Code leader who told me that she was managing a booth at a conference, and everyone was an engineer except for one recruiter, and the recruiter's name was Brian. Someone walked up to her and said, "Are you Brian?" Because it was easier to imagine that her name was Brian than that she was one of the engineers at the table.

And so, kind of going through this, we said, hey, we need to elevate our voices. We need to elevate the needs of women in the industry. And it feels being in it day by day, that nothing's happening. But when you look back over 13-15 years, you see that parental leave policies have improved significantly, that we see numbers in leadership going up across the board, that it's part of the conversation that relatively standard and tech companies to have DEI roles within the organization, within the people team. And so, these are not enough. It's just the beginning. But it is a lot that's taken place over the past 10 to 15 years.

VICTORIA: I agree. And I can relate as someone who was a project manager working in a technology space. Was it back in, like, 2013 or something? And you'd go to tech meetups, and most likely, I would be the only woman there. [laughs] But then, with Women Who Code, my friend invited me to go to a Ruby event, and it was, you know, all women. [laughs]. There was a woman who was even giving the instruction. And so, that was just a really cool feeling after having been out networking and feeling kind of isolated to really find a lot of people who are similar to you.

And I remember part of the narrative at that time when we were talking about increasing inclusion and diversity in technology; there was a narrative that, well, there just aren't as many women in tech. And being a part of Women Who Code, I could be able to, like, answer back to say, "Well, there actually is a lot of women in tech."

And it's the bigger problem that women would get started because they're interested in the industry and having good careers, but then they would fall out midway. So, there just wasn't enough progression in their careers. There wasn't enough support on the parental leave side, or there just wasn't enough community to keep people interested, like, when you're the only one. And many of our members they were the only women in their company, and then Women Who Code was where they found people they could really connect with.

So, I just think it's interesting that it solves a particular problem where we would have women who are just interested in learning to code who would come to our events. And then, we had women who were actively coding in their jobs and teaching others in these leadership roles within the community to advance their own careers. And that's certainly what I did, and how I broke into executive leadership was, like, I'm a director at Women Who Code and I've got all this other leadership experience. And I'm bringing that network with me. It really increases your value to employers and demonstrates your leadership abilities.

ALAINA: Yeah, I couldn't agree more. The program which we kind of fell into, it's our volunteers, is our program that I'm actually most proud of at Women Who Code. And it's probably because I get to know our volunteers because I know so many people's lives and careers are impacted by our programming.

But that leadership development, that practice-based leadership that our volunteers are able to obtain, the doors that get open, and just like you said, it opened doors. And I remember it hit me when one of our volunteers told me she was interviewing with SpaceX. And one of the reasons they said they were excited to talk to her was because of her Women Who Code leadership experience. And I just thought to myself, we're doing something right. [laughs]

VICTORIA: Yeah, absolutely. And I think maybe part of Will's question before, too, is, like, did it always feel like you were doing something right? Or did it all just come together naturally? Or what kind of bumps did you initially hit when you were getting things off the ground?

ALAINA: Yeah. When we first got started and realized, hey, we need to make Women Who Code more accessible, we were doing everything in a very manual way. We needed to adapt to building systems and processes, and that's not the fun part of running a volunteer organization. And when you're moving so fast, it means slowing things down a little bit to be able to make sure that you can do things better, more consistently, more efficiently, but it's so critical.

And so, I would say we kind of launched outside of the Bay Area in a couple of cities. And it just snowballed until we expanded into 20 to 40 more cities within probably a year outside of that. And we just really needed to catch up on creating systems and processes, which is not beautiful at all, but it's an important part of running a real business, a real company.

WILL: That's amazing. First off, I just want to say I am so sorry that the world we live in looks down upon women or anybody. So, I'm just so sorry that, like, the story you said about Brian, asking the lady that. I feel like that's so disrespectful. I am so sorry if you ever got treated that way or anything like that.

And so, I was going to ask this question, and then I kind of answered it. But the question was, do you think women are at a place to where kind of equal in tech? And I kind of answered my own question and said, "No." And so, I want to reframe it. What do you think it will take to continue to help the women get to that level of where it should be?

ALAINA: It's going to take a lot of things. But the fastest and easiest way to create more equality for women and girls in the tech industry is by investing and supporting the incredible talent that is in the industry today. We need them to thrive. We need them to stay in their careers. We need them to become leaders with power and influence to create more equity in the industry so that when future generations are coming in, they're coming into an industry that is less broken for them, that is more welcoming, that shows and demonstrates more opportunity.

This is one of the most exciting and innovative industries to be a part of. So many things are being shaped and built for the first time that are systems that are going to be the foundations for years or centuries to come. And so, it's more important now than ever for us to be thinking about bringing equity into that so we're not dealing with technical debt, where we're starting from a system that has more equality to it.

VICTORIA: I really appreciate that perspective. And I'm curious how that relates to your work at Valor Ventures as well.

ALAINA: Valor Ventures is very aligned with the values of Women Who Code, which is why I chose it. I am passionate about creating more equality and opportunity for diverse individuals to thrive and succeed in general but via the tech industry. And so, when I move into focusing on entrepreneurs and focusing on seeing diverse entrepreneurs succeed in building thriving organizations, I see an opportunity to have someone who will be thinking earlier about the policies and the practices that are going to build more equitable teams, products that are really for all of their users.

VICTORIA: I think that's a great mindset. And it reminds me that when we talked about, like, the importance of diversity, and equity, and inclusion, that it's not purely a moral thing, even though morally we know we want to support and be inclusive, but that it's also good business strategy [laughs], just by the value of having different perspectives and different types of people, and then being able to have your products be accessible for a diverse group as well, right?

ALAINA: Yeah, the data shows teams that are diverse are smarter. Companies that have women represented in leadership they have a stronger ROI. There's business reason behind it. There's certainly a social-moral reason that it just should take place. But, you know, if you need to come back to your shareholders or your investors, there's financial data around it.

WILL: Yeah, I totally agree on all that, like, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.


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WILL: What have you seen hold back women in this space? And the reason I'm asking this question is because there are some biases out there, and, at times, we don't even realize it. For example, I know we have parental leave. And before I had kids, I didn't understand parental leave at all. But then, now that I have kids, I'm like, oh, it is not even close to being enough time during that time, you know, four or five hours of sleep at night, just all those things.

So, in your experience, what have you seen? And hopefully, we can use this as a learning opportunity for anybody that just may be blind to it. What have you seen that kind of holds it back?

ALAINA: That's holding back, like, implementing specific policies and practices or?

WILL: Yes, holding back the policies, or maybe women not being as prevalent in tech roles any of those areas.

ALAINA: So, sort of two different approaches with that is I'm optimistic. I think most companies, yes, they care about the bottom line, but they want to be doing the right thing if it's easy. Leaders like me we need to put pressure on companies making better decisions. But also, industry leaders and organizations out there need to be able to make it easier for companies to make the decisions that are going to create more equity inside of their organization.

I know that's taking the responsibility off of them a little bit. But companies won't make commitments. They won't do the hard things if they don't know how to do it. And so, the easier that we can make it for them to make the right decision, the more likely they are to make the right decision.

VICTORIA: I think that people want to do the right thing if it's easy is a really succinct way to explain a lot of, like, social and moral [laughs] issues right now, right? Most people generally want to do the right thing, but it can be complex.

I'm curious about, speaking of complexity, for Women Who Code, going through, you know, being an organization that was built around in-person events, and then having COVID happen, so, like, what were some of the challenges of the last few years and changes that you experienced along the way?

ALAINA: Yeah, when COVID hit, that was a big moment for the whole world. It was certainly really hard for organizations that rely on in-person activities. You know, our major conference supplied a third of our operating revenue. Our members were going to, you know, close to 2,000 in-person events. And so, we had to adapt just like everyone else. The organizations and the companies that adapted were the ones that thrived.

So, we had to completely retrain all of our volunteers from doing in-person events to be able to create digital events for our community. We had to figure out how to produce major events, and conferences, and hackathons and do it in a remote way. And then, of course, there's the day-to-day that absolutely everyone had, and that was, you know, just your team went from meeting in person to everyone being remote.

And some of the great things that came out about that is we were serving members in about 26 countries and about 80 cities, and now we serve members in 147 countries. It just made it accessible that if you don't happen to be in a location where an event is happening and you also don't happen to have childcare, be able to participate, that you are still able to participate in an online setting.

And then, what we saw with being able to start moving more of, you know, those talks that were being delivered to our YouTube channel, it then became even more accessible. People spent about five years of life watching our YouTube trainings, and that's time people are investing in themselves. And when I say they did it, and I'm talking about in 2022. So, our YouTube channel, our trainings, they continue to grow, and then our online events continue to happen. But luckily, now we are able to start going back in person.

And it's, again, just so amazing to be able to see the people you haven't seen in a long time, feel that feeling that is just a little bit different for an in-person event.

WILL: That's amazing. So, from, say, 2019, 2020 to now, it went from 80 countries to over 140, just because of the pivot to go more, like, YouTube and tech. Is that kind of what you're saying about the growth of it?

ALAINA: Yeah, so about 80 cities, so about 25 countries to serving members in 147 countries.

WILL: That's amazing.

ALAINA: Yeah, a tremendous amount of growth and creating accessibility around the globe. Previously, we were really only able to focus on tech hubs that had an ecosystem to support it. But, you know, just because you're from a rural area of your state or from a country in the Global South, you still deserve access to this incredible community and all of the free accessible programming that Women Who Code has to offer.

When we have a conference, we have people from 88 countries participating. And when you sign into the networking session, you're going to hop on the phone with someone from Nigeria, someone from Bangladesh, someone from your same city, and it's just such an incredible experience to be able to have that global focus and reach.

WILL: Wow, that is so amazing. So, let's talk about right now. What does your next milestone look like, you know, in the next six months or next year? What does that look like for you?

ALAINA: As I mentioned before, one of the big challenges we've had this year is our programming is going so, so well, but our funding has pulled back a little bit. And so, we're working to diversify our revenue strategy a little bit and have a traditional nonprofit walk that we've never done before. And it's a remote walk, so anyone all over the world can participate just like you can with our digital events.

But this has been something new for us. Because when we went through it during COVID, again, you know, you'd get on the call with all of your partners. You know, the world is going through something, and you kind of say, oh yeah, we're in it together. But you don't see the grace that you saw in 2020 and sort of the camaraderie, and we're in this together, and we're going to give you space and support you, you know, in every way that we can that, you know, is just really missing this time around. You know, we have members who absolutely need support in their careers right now. And so, it's navigating through something different.

VICTORIA: Yeah. And I guess talking more about inclusivity, like, we have all this free content, and it is Women Who Code. But I remember when I was an organizer, I had a few people ask me, "Well if I'm a man, can I come to your event?" And I was like, "Yes, it's open to everyone," right? Like, it's promoting women, and it's about women growing in their careers. And certainly, if that's not also your intention with attending the event, you should keep that in mind and make sure you're leaving space for other people.

But I also really appreciated that it's open for everyone and that it's open for everyone who is in the women umbrella, and being intentional about that, and that it's inclusive of everyone who relates to being a woman, right?

ALAINA: Yeah. Women Who Code welcomes all genders. We, you know, really struggle with our name from a brand perspective because it isn't as inclusive as we'd like it to be. So, actually, after we say our name, we try not to repeat the word women anywhere else. From the beginning, been dedicated to having an open, accessible community. But we definitely require, you know, that you are following our code of conduct, that you're there for the intended purpose of the event. And we want to make sure that we're protecting our community.

VICTORIA: Well, I really appreciate that. And I sounds like a value organization that I'm with. I always look for those things that that's what we're really promoting.

There's been so many changes that have happened with Women Who Code and in your career. If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice when you were first getting started, what would you tell yourself?

ALAINA: If I was going back and thinking about what I would tell myself in the beginning, I'd probably tell myself to focus on data sooner. Coming from the history of being a meetup group to transitioning to being a global nonprofit, we dragged our feet around focusing on data impact, and really, it's because we're constantly doing so much programming. We're always doing so many things, and anything you add on is an extra thing to do. And so, I would say focus on the data much sooner.

VICTORIA: I can speak to there being a lot of events. I remember back in the heyday in D.C., it was, like, algorithms on Tuesdays and Ruby on Thursdays, and then next week, it would be DevOps. And there was just always something going on. And I thought that was so cool. And I really appreciate just really everyone who is involved in putting on those programs. I really want to emphasize, too, like, the value for companies working with Women Who Code. And what do they get out of the partnership, and how can they really engage with the community?

ALAINA: Yeah. So, companies that work with us, it's a partnership. They are there to support the community, and that's what they have to do to really develop trust. And we're going to make sure that we're guiding them in that process. So, if we see an opportunity for them to engage in a more authentic way, we're going to point that out. But companies are often hiring from our community; that's one of the big reasons, not just through our job board because our members are unicorns. They're diverse technologists, and everyone wants to hire them.

And so, you can just say, "Hey, come work for me." But really, they want you to explain who's on the team? What are the exciting projects, and what are the exciting technologies that your company is building? So that they can actually identify that your company is an organization that they would want to work for before just applying for a job. And that's what a lot of our partnership creates space for.

So, maybe getting an opportunity to join our podcast and tell the story and get to know some of the diverse leadership team or diverse engineering team, learn about some of your, like, commitment to DEI and things like that. Because when a senior engineer receives multiple job outreaches, they're going to respond to the one that they've heard of, that they already know is a good company, that they know is supporting and investing in building equity into the tech ecosystem. That's going to go a long way in them deciding to reply.

WILL: That's awesome. Earlier, you mentioned being inclusive of all the members. I think I know the answer, but I just want to double-check. If I want to volunteer, am I able to volunteer at Women Who Code?

ALAINA: Yes, absolutely. If you visit our website...and we just updated our website, so I encourage everyone to go visit today. It's looking different than it has over the past five years. There's a sign-up to volunteer. You would be absolutely welcome, Will.

WILL: Awesome. And, as a volunteer, what would that look like? What could I get involved in? What areas?

ALAINA: You could decide to be a speaker. You could apply to be a network leader. You could become a lead in a particular technology area. We have six technical tracks. Our tracks are cloud, data science, Python, mobile. When [inaudible 32:53] hears about it, we will have emerging technologies track that was expanded from our blockchain community this year. And then, we also have a career track as well. So, you can become a lead focused on one of those particular areas in our digital communities. You can get engaged with the Women Who Code community in many different ways.

We also have some really cool programs like mentor me and buddy system, so getting involved in those. Building long-form connections or long-time connections with individuals in the community really helps to create a sense of belonging and start to build trust and an opportunity to exchange knowledge.

VICTORIA: I always really appreciated people who were, like, "Do you need a space to host your meetup?" Or "Do you want us to buy you pizza for your meetup?" [laughs] Those are very easy ways to engage. And it's true that the membership does see and pay attention to, like, who is regularly getting involved in committing to this, and it makes a difference in your brand and reputation.

ALAINA: Absolutely. The companies that work with us absolutely hire from the Women Who Code community. I'll give two examples. So, one of the most exciting examples was we had an event at a company, and they sort of were connecting in an authentic way, not, like, an interview way, but they essentially were doing an early interview with people who were there. And so I remember that it took place on Tuesday, and they had a job offer on Friday at the company that they were at. So, they were just able to move so quickly and hire someone from our community.

And then, ages ago, Snapchat was at our first-ever conference, and they had hired four or six people at that event. And it was just so cool to see that we're not a recruiting agency, so we really just rely on either individuals or companies to tell us when they have these amazing career outcomes. So, every time we hear about it, it's always exciting to me.

VICTORIA: That's super cool. And I wonder, what is the thing you're most excited about coming up for Women Who Code this year?

ALAINA: We have CONNECT Asia taking place later on this year, and so that's our major technical conference with a focus in the Asia market. It's going to be just really, really exciting. We haven't had one since pre-COVID. It's still going to be a remote event. We had CONNECT LATAM, so our first-ever conference focused on Latin America last year. And this year, it's focused on Asia. So, it's really exciting to get back and provide some support to our regional audiences and really showcase some of the incredible talent and leadership coming out of those regions.

WILL: That's amazing. So, the question I have for you, and it's easy to assume this question, but I want to hear from you because I know you talked about, at the beginning, how it was when you started the nonprofit. But what is the wind in your sails? Like, what keeps you motivated and going? It sounds like it's an easy answer, but just from your heart, what motivates you?

ALAINA: Oh, it is absolutely the stories that I hear, like I said, especially from our volunteers. So, the Mexico City volunteer who, in under a year, told me her salary increased 200%. The director from Toronto, you know, when she stepped up, was an individual contributor, and under one year, she made it to director level, and today she's a vice president.

So, when I think of the career impacts that are taking place for our members, and every single time I hear about it, it drives me to wake up. It drives me to work harder. It drives me to deliver better program and just makes me completely connected to what we do as an organization.

VICTORIA: What a great benefit. And for myself, personally, it absolutely has been a factor in the last, like, two jobs I've gotten. [laughs] They're like, "Oh, you are a director at Women Who Code? That's so interesting." So, I really appreciate everything that you've done and happy to be a part of that. And my personal network, I know many women who have been through that and benefited immensely from having that networking community. And really, even just being able to see yourself and know that you belong in the industry, I think, is really, really important.

ALAINA: I'm sure I'm going to be telling your story the next time someone asks me.


VICTORIA: That's great. No, please do. And let's see; we're wrapping up at the end of our time here. Is there anything else that you would like to promote?

ALAINA: Yeah, please visit If you have technical jobs available, please post them to the Women Who Code job board. Again, it's just Join our community. Check out our amazing, new, beautiful website, and follow us on social media @WomenWhoCode.

VICTORIA: Love that. Thank you so much for joining us today.

You can subscribe to the show and find notes along with a complete transcript for this episode at If you have questions or comments, you can email us at And you can find me on Twitter @victori_ousg.

WILL: And you can find me @will23larry.

This podcast is brought to you by thoughtbot and produced and edited by Mandy Moore. Thank you for listening. See you next time.

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