Some things really get IT folks riled up. One of them is a recent article in Wired claiming that coding is the next big blue collar job. While it sounds like a sign of hope and opportunity, it’s created a backlash amongst IT professionals -- one that uncovers the “belly of the beast.” As an industry insider, I've heard this blue collar job idea unleash fears, assumptions and what sounds like territorial sandbox whining amongst software developers, as in "Here comes more crappy code" or "These guys won't be experienced enough to do what I do."
She’s been a techie since she was a kid, writing her own programs and helping her real estate agent parents incorporate the latest technology into their business. At about 10 years old, she hooked up the family’s first modem and was uploading real estate properties to the multiple listing service (MLS). “I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” she said, adding, “Yes, I am a geek.” Now McGee is a serial tech entrepreneur and educator who’s on a mission to abolish that nerdy stigma and make careers for girls in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) more accessible. “Females are way under-represented in STEM fields, and it’s absolutely not because of any kind of innate ability,” she said. “It’s a cultural issue. (People think) it’s not feminine, that it’s geeky.” From kindergarten to 12th grade, girls’ participation in math and science nationally just about matches that of boys, according to the National Girls Collaborative Project. But in college, the disparity develops quickly, with women making up only 18.2% of computer science graduates nationally. Read more at www.crainscleveland.com/article/20140713/AWARDS01/307139989/mel-mcgee
Mel McGee is the CEO of We Can Code IT and the feature for this month’s Female Entrepreneur Interview. Below she shares how entrepreneurship gives her confidence and how she is empowering other women and girls through her passions for equality, software innovations and changing the world. Tigress Effect: How has being an entrepreneur given you confidence? Mel McGee: Innovating gives me confidence and entrepreneurship certainly includes innovation. The thought that I can take something that I envision and create a new reality for myself that impacts others is powerful. To hear someone say “it can’t be done,” then to go out and do it allows you to prove to yourself that you are capable. After doing that time after time, confidence grows. Sure, failure is always part of the equation, but when you learn from that failure and respond to it in order to make change, you understand that you can stand on your own two feet; you can make a difference in the world. TE: What impact have you made in other people’s lives through your business? MM: We’ve taught many adults and children how to use computational thinking to help solve problems and innovate at We Can Code IT, and the impact is palpable. The most obvious impact can be seen through our coding bootcamp students. The coding bootcamp transforms people’s lives in just a few months. I see students coming in desperate to better themselves, maybe they aren’t happy at their current job, many don’t even have a job. We help them not only learn how to program, learn skills that will help them get great careers, but more importantly we work on giving them the confidence they need to see themselves successful in life. It’s great to see them getting interview requests and job offers before the bootcamp has even finished! Read more at tigresseffect.org/tag/mel-mcgee/
By Amanda Bates | Photo by John Goldy By 2020 there will be one million unfilled jobs in the United States in the technology field alone, according to veteran software engineer and entrepreneur Mel McGee. McGee is the CEO and lead instructor of We Can Code IT, an adult education program striving to diversify the technology and engineering fields in Northeast Ohio. The idea to begin We Can Code IT gradually formed in McGee’s mind as she spoke with women after presenting at tech conferences. Very often women would ask if she would teach them to code. “It became clear that they were kind of intimidated by my male peers, so they felt more comfortable asking me,” she says. Through We Can Code IT, her goal is to fill a greater percentage of those one million open positions with women and people of color, both of which are underrepresented in STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) careers. We Can Code IT offers full-time and part-time coding boot camps, which are highly comprehensive and focused on providing the relevant, practical information students will need to find employment in the technology fields. Read more at http://cbcmagazine.com/2016/04/28/higher-education-profile-mel-mcgee-ceo-we-can-code-it/
This is an excellent course. Mel is readily available to every student to share her knowledge. The instructors at We Can Code IT know the industry and are able to help students find their individual strength and niches within IT. (From what I have gathered, this is not the case for many other boot camps, that are taught primarily by boot camp alumni and CS students.)
Mel McGee, CEO of We Can Code IT, recognizes a need in the community to get underserved populations the tech skills they need for new lucrative IT careers. “Engineering software and teaching technology for nearly 20 years has given me perspective. I believe nearly everyone can learn how to code.” she says. “If you have the dedication, if you’re willing to work, we’re here to teach you. Not only do you learn the most in-demand skills, we train you how to think like a developer in a welcoming, collaborative environment.” Great companies know that multiple perspectives help their teams perform better, yet less than 18% of IT teams are comprised of women, African American, and Hispanic populations. We Can Code IT bootcamps address the needs of employers who can’t find enough computer programmers along with needs of those unemployed and underemployed who need tech skills for career changes. Three of the top five most in-demand occupations are in computer programming, and there will be more than 1 million unfilled tech jobs in IT by 2020. First year software developer salaries in Cleveland average around $50,000. The average experienced software engineer nationwide earns over $90,000 a year. “It’s a no brainer,” says McGee. “Clevelanders need careers that offer financial security. Employers need software developers. The most successful companies understand the financial gain they experience when employing diverse teams.” We Can Code IT hopes to have a significant socioeconomic impact on Cleveland, a city whose poverty rate is nearly 50%. Read More at http://www.streamlinksoftware.com/news/bid/187247/We-Can-Code-IT-Coding-Bootcamps-To-Launch-in-Cleveland