Etsy, the marketplace for handmade goods, is doing its part to make women better hackers.
Having just finished the third book in Steig Larsson's trilogy, I know you'd definitely not want to be on the wrong side of Lisbeth Salander's hacking skills. If only more women had that type of empowerment. Too often, though, it's a boy's club.
Hacker School is a free, three-month program in New York to help programmers become better at their craft. Etsy will host the program this summer and is offering $5,000 grants to 10 women to participate. Founders David Albert, Nicholas Bergson-Shilcock and Sonali Sridhar have described it as "like a writers' retreat for hackers."
Traditional CS programs are good at helping people become good computer scientists, but they're generally not good at helping people become better programmers. Understanding CS is a part of being a good programmer, but it's only a part.
We think programming is a craft, and like any other craft, the way to become great is to do it a lot. That's why Hacker School is project-based, and everyone codes on day one.
In the article, Mark Hedlund, vice president of engineering at Etsy, talked about the challenges of increasing the number of women on staff:
I try to build as much empathy in product development teams with the people using the product as I can; the predominantly female user base of Etsy suggests that having a heavily male development team isn't the best approach for that. [...] That tug and pull is present in every product team I've ever worked on - ones with strong female representation and ones without. But, I certainly think that many of the men on the team at Etsy use the site very differently than women do, and that having more women on the team will make our decision-making stronger.
Applications are being accepted through May 7. There's a check box on the form to apply for the Etsy grants. Though Hacker School is free, the grants can be used for living expenses and will be awarded based on need.