Erika Carlson on Supporting Detroit Women in Tech

By Amanda Lewan on June 10th, 2013 / Comments

At Female Founder Friday Detroit last week Andrea Livingston of Sizzple pig share with us that 1.5 women compared to men are starting a company, though investors meet 1 woman out of every 19 potential investments.

That’s a startling thought. Here’s another one: According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology, there aren’t enough women in tech, but there also aren’t enough technologist to fill technology jobs. The NCWIT’s recent industry report states that by 2018 the IT industry will only be able to fill half of their available jobs.

Erika Carlson, co-founder of Girl Develop it Detroit, is helping teach and encourage women to learn technical skills, enhancing a network of women technologists in Detroit.

Erika started the Detroit chapter of Girl Develop It along with Michelle Srbinovich in order to provide a supporting learning community for women interested or working in software development.

“It’s our hope that since the Detroit technology scene is young and fast-growing, we can help create a diverse group of technologists here right from the beginning,” said Erika.

Diversity is important, as women often bring not only additional perspective and understanding to the team but may also help increase innovation and productivity.

Fast-growing is a great term to also describe the group that has hosted over 20 events since they started the chapter in November of 2012. Over 100 students have taken classes and workshops with GDI Detroit, said Erika, and many of them describe the classes as inspiring and empowering. Erika also said that every student to date has answered their post class survey stating the class was worthwhile. That’s just as awesome as all of the numbers.

“There is absolutely a need for more people with technical skills in Detroit’s job market,” said Erika. “It’s extremely rewarding to empower our students with new skills, whatever their reasons for wanting to learn might be.”

Girl Develop it Detroit offers a range of classes from Web 101, HTML & CSS, and also object-oriented programming with languages such as Python and Ruby. Not everyone comes in wanting to program too. Some professionals work with developers and want a better understanding of development.

As Erika says, software is everyone and understanding how it works can better any business.

“One thing many people don’t realize is that in our increasingly technology-driven world, you don’t have to be a programmer to get a great deal of value from a beginning programming class. Software is everywhere, in every field from agriculture to fashion design to medicine, and the importance of technical literacy is only going to increase.”

Join the Girl Develop it Detroit meetup to catch their next class, and for women in tech, check out the Michigan Women in Technology organization, too.

About the Author

Amanda Lewan

Amanda Lewan

Editor @michipreneur. Chief Storyteller at Bamboo Detroit. Follow me @Amanda_Jenn. I love telling the story of entrepreneurs and innovators.