Working to Narrow Seattle’s Software/Tech Gender Gap

Special thanks to Skytap’s Jill Domanico, Jewel von Kempf, Michele Costello, and Kat White for their contributions to this piece and our efforts to increase diversity in our own office and Seattle as a whole!

When thinking of the reasons why it’s an awesome time to work at Skytap, there are tons that come to mind. The fridge is fully stocked with food, beer, and wine. We’ve got an abundance of outstanding local coffee, and a brand new shuffleboard table to gather around and settle scores. Our engineers are encouraged to contribute to the open source community. We’ve got a company indoor soccer team, our benefit package is outstanding, and we’re lucky enough to work in a city as awesome as Seattle.

But something new in 2015 that we can be proud of are our efforts to narrow Seattle’s highly publicized tech gender gap, so that the benefits listed above can be enjoyed by an even more diverse group of Skytap employees.

Last weekend, Skytap attended Seattle’s first ever Advancing the Careers of Technical Women (ACT-W) and it was awesome. What is ACT-W?


ACT-W is designed to help women professionals network, grow their skills, and discover employers looking for exceptional talent. The conference is organized by ChickTechWomen Who Code, and Geek Girls Carrots

Skytap software engineer Lara Martin, technical writer Michele Costello, and senior software engineer Matt Mehlhope let us know about this great event (it sold out!) and we’re thrilled that it will be expanding to a 2-day conference in the future.

Skytap HR manager Jewel von Kempf explained why Skytap is so interested in the cause that ACT-W, She’s Geeky, and others are taking up:

These conferences, networks, etc. provide women with role models, colleagues, and peers who are dealing with workplace challenges and the need for change while working in an industry that they love. It is empowering to newer and more experienced professional women in the tech industry and it is a growing trend.

Michele Costello, Kat White, and Jewel von Kempf at ACT-W 2015

By working the Skytap booth and sitting in on some of the technical presentations that were given at ACT-W, Michele was able to meet some of the incredibly talented women in Seattle who also attended. When asked what stood out as one of her favorite parts of the day, Michele pointed out:

I was inspired by the number of women interested in technical careers who attended the conference and who stopped by our career booth. From this conference, I could tell that there is a high demand for quality bootcamps and programs like “Ada” in our area, which shows that there are a lot of women who are excited about technology and ready to join this industry.

Speaking of Ada, we are thrilled to announce that we’re one of the Ada Developers Academy’s newest sponsors!

AdaLogo2The Ada Developers Academy’s mission is incredible and offers women in Seattle, and those looking to move here, with an unbelievable opportunity. From Ada’s homepage:

Ada Developers Academy is a year-long intensive training program for women transitioning into software development. We’re located in Seattle, Washington.

We offer one of the most comprehensive developer training programs available: seven months of full-time classroom instruction plus five months of on-the-ground training ensures our graduates thrive in their careers as developers.

Ada is tuition-free and is supported by the tech community, public funding, and individual donors.

We’re so excited to sponsor a future software developer through a group like Ada, and we’ll be sure and update our participation in those listed above, and others that strive to expand tech scene diversity throughout this city!

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