Just under five months ago, we launched the Women in Tech program in conjunction with our partners Colored Cow and Hyperverge Academy. Our goals were to mentor the young women in real-world software technologies and power skills such as communication, critical thinking, problem solving etc. and make well-rounded employees ready for real world internships and jobs; to expose them to new ideas, technologies and people that they wouldn’t normally be exposed to in a college setting; and, to help make a dent in the gender disparity in the tech sector. As the program finishes its first semester, we’re happy with the progress so far — we’ll keep doing the things that went right and learn from the things that didn’t work so well.
In January recruited 21 first- through fourth-year students from THDC-IHET, an engineering college in Tehri after a rigorous interview process with some tough interviewers from Colored Cow and Hyperverge Academy. Over the past few months, we’ve seen these young women exceed our expectations; they’ve been curious learners, they’ve diligently worked through the problems assigned to them by their mentors and they’ve written insightful blogs sharing their experiences. Their growth is in no small part because of their mentors from Colored Cow and Hyperverge Academy who have worked tirelessly to help them learn and grow. Kudos to the mentors and learners for successfully completing semester 1.
As we near the end of their academic year and their final exams, we are reflecting on the past five months and looking to the next few semesters of this program. This has been a semester of significant learnings from the program and introspection about what we set out to achieve. This reflection and introspection is already informing how we plan the next few semesters of this cohort and subsequent cohorts.
Looking Back, Looking Forward
The beginning months of the program went smoothly and flawlessly, thanks to the meticulous planning by Colored Cow and Hyperverge Academy; the learners were eager, engaged and enthusiastic. But over the past couple of months, uncertain college exam schedules, returning to in-person instruction, and, for some, going back to the college hostel with strict curfew rules has disrupted the rhythm of the program and threatened to lose the momentum we gathered thus far. Thanks to extra efforts by the mentors in making sure that the learners continued to stay engaged, the program has continued without major hiccups.
As with most such programs, we have seen our share of attrition. Early on, a couple of learners left the program for personal reasons and then, as the program has gone through its challenges, we’ve noticed that the overall engagement level is dropping. It might be due to the disruptions in their schedule, final exam stress or just life taking over, but we plan to talk to all the learners when they return from their final exams and evaluate who continues to the next semester.
Looking ahead, we plan to conduct regular feedback sessions with small groups of learners and all the mentors. This feedback and our cohort 1 experience will also feed into the planning for our second cohort.
We’ve begun the groundwork for our second cohort scheduled to begin in Sept/Oct 2022. We are running this cohort in Maharashtra with our partner Soft Corner; we plan to recruit women from colleges in Tier II cities such as Nashik, Sangli, and Satara.