She Codes and Building Community in Tech with Kate Kirwin (#45)

We talk about Kate's journey to STEMM, She Codes, and building community in tech.

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Kate Kirwin is a passionate advocate for women in STEM and the innovation ecosystem. Founder of She Codes, she has led the steep growth of the project since 2015. Thanks to her work, more than 6000 women have learnt to code. She has hustled to source more than a million dollars from government and industry to support women in STEM. With a regional upbringing, she strongly believes in empowering women from the world’s remotest regions, from as far north as Port Hedland and Karratha, and east as far as Brisbane. Kate has also contributed to the growth of Spacecubed, and since 2014 has played a pivotal role in building community and coordinating other programs including Plus Eight, and Startup Weekend. Kate was recently awarded a Business News 40 under 40 award, the West Australian Rising Star award and was a runner up for the 2019 and 2020 Seven News Young Achiever Awards.

In our conversation, we talk about Kate’s journey to STEMM, She Codes, and building community in tech.

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Show Notes

[00:00:57] Kate’s motivations and career path.
[00:01:38] The push to study law.
[00:02:06] Taking a gap year to work.
[00:02:25] Choosing not to pursue university. You’re a part of something at work.
[00:03:03] The move to event management.
[00:03:33] Landing at Spacecubed and getting a taste for tech and STEM.
[00:04:56] Feeding Kate’s curiosity for this aspect of creativity.
[00:06:00] Kate’s motivations for founding the She Codes community.
[00:06:19] Kate’s early experiences with the dev community.
[00:08:23] External interest in women-centred dev community events.
[00:10:12] About She Codes initiatives and programs.
[00:12:07] Bridging the gaps between education, community, and industry.
[00:13:53] The importance of providing other avenues outside of traditional work and education structures.
[00:15:26] The broad demographic getting involved in tech through She Codes.
[00:18:45] The misconceptions about who is welcome and capable in this space.
[00:19:53] The stereotypes of devs in the public.
[00:21:23] There’s been progress in media and entertainment portrayals, but not enough.
[00:25:36] Coding is not hard. YMMV.
[00:26:51] Quote: If you can express yourself, you can code.
[00:27:00] Words of wisdom from Hayley Stewart and Michelle Sandford.
[00:29:37] She Codes 6-month industry prep programs.
[00:35:00] The importance of networking in a non-mercenary way.
[00:38:40] Managing the program and community over COVID.
[00:44:45] Cultivating workplace connections while working remotely.
[00:50:20] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work?
[00:53:53] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you?
[00:57:56] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore?
[01:00:17] Feedback is a data-point.
[01:07:17] Find out more about Kate and She Codes.

Find out more about Kate Kirwin and their work

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