Women-oriented groups have become a refuge for this New York City newcomer since I’ve managed to straddle the lines between working a corporate day job and taking evening classes, as I attempted to make the switch to tech career since 2014. Tech Meetup groups such as Girl Develop It (GDI) or online communities such as Tech Ladies, have not only made an impact on my own career growth, but also have strategically created pipelines for women technologists to get the support they need while breaking into a new career. I have attended coding classes through scholarships and learned most of what I know now in UX design, because I had discovered a supportive network like GDI. Later on, after I took my first HTML/CSS class, I would volunteer to lead study groups, co-organize hackathons and make connections that eventually got me into spaces I never would have imagined for myself.
This is the “big why” behind forming organizations like Femmecubator. There is never enough communities like it that work to bridge the gender and racial inequities in tech – a double bind dilemma of the low representation of women and women of color. One of the key factors that hinders POC and women from even getting in the door at tech companies isn’t the lack of education but the lack of access to a network and the obvious lack of representation. Only 12% of BIPOC women occupy seats within the technology field and Femmecubator strives to bridge that gap through our App Development mentorship program.
In 2020, we are reactivating our efforts. This is the year that’s most pressing for BIPOC allies and communities to take action, and the turning point that sparked the engine for Femmecubator were events such as @blackignite in August, an event that highlighted 30 Black Designers who got paid to showcase their work. It is a response to the call, “Where are the Black Designers?” which was a conference that lit a slack community of 10,000 supporters and counting. These events were proof that the lack of diversity is not a pipeline issue. Black women in tech exists. BIPOC women are equipped to be in this field.
Femmecubator Origins: A Thriving Space for 3 Women of Color
The focus on woman of color was a concept that mirrors the two founders’ (Vanessa and I) journey of breaking into tech in New York City, where both had worked after hours to attend coding classes and events that were affordable to free. Intensive classes or bootcamps can become a financial blocker for many career-switchers.
Some interesting trivia:
- Femmecubator’s inception. It started with 3 women (Jasmineskyy, Vanessa and Krizia), who met and worked at a nonprofit, delivering a quick turn mobile iOS Stickerpack project in 2017.
- It simply means, women supporting women. “Femmecubator” a portmanteau of “femme” and “incubator” is a term coined by Jasmineskyy Forcer, to mean that great ideas can come from a small group of women creating a safe space to work together, through resourcefulness and grit.
- NYU Accelerator Approved. Since then Femmecubator’s mission was to create a platform to support women to thrive in the Tech, Media and Design industries. After being shortlisted as a finalist at the NYU Leslie e-lab Summer Accelerator in 2018, Femmecubator refined its focus to support women starting a career in the tech industry.
Krizia with Krish after presenting Femmecubator at the 2018 Summer Accelerator Pitch at the NYU Leslie E-lab.
I recall the countless pro-bono hours spent with my fellow WOC friends most of which were paid with bootstrapped funds, lunch dates and sometimes as x-deals to support their own causes. Our early adopters in the team helped create our initial market research, (Nicole Spiegel-Gotsch), design illustrations for merch (Krish Raneses-Uy); and set out to build our Instagram community and social media strategy (Erika Jeffers);
Portrait of Erika Jeffers working through service design pitch at our war room donated by WeWork Chelsea.
All these and the picture of a more diverse and inclusive workforce, were enough leverage for me to move with intention and revisit what’s next for Femmecubator. After almost three years of failing and reshaping; and doing the work in the background, it was imperative to not shy away from leading the conversation and creating that link of support for women, who are breaking into a career in tech. One’s decision transition to a job in tech requires not just skills, but a safe space or support system of like-minded women and mentors.
For Femmecubator, 2020 was the year that had opened doors to opportunities to partner with organizations like Code Word Agency to craft our mission statement and expand on our brand’s voice/tone style guide; The Indie Consultant (Heatherlee Nguyen), to workshop the mentorship experience; and to get back in app development mode that we were able to open to motivated student volunteers who recently finished their web development immersive at The Flatiron School – Access Labs.
Our mission is simple: to give women of color a seat at the table. We aim to provide a safe space and a mentorship community that will support women of color, as they navigate their next step.
I invite you to join us, shoulder to shoulder, in our long term vision to put women of color in the board rooms and in the rooms that build platforms that shape the future.
Your partner in growth,
Founder of Femmecubator