Jump around in this post:
- Our humble beginnings
- How things have evolved over the years
- Enlisting more women for the HQ team
- What can we improve?
- IWD 2022 initiative: Free Umbraco Fundamentals
Women remain underrepresented in tech. Deloitte found that in the US, women have 23.1% of technical roles at large tech companies out of a 31.5% overall representation of women employees at the same companies. In the UK, the Tech Nation 2021 report found that women make up only 19% of the tech workforce. And in Denmark, where Umbraco HQ is located and where progress has been made towards gender equality, representation of women at tech companies remains low, with the average percentage of women in tech roles hovering around 30%.
In honor of International Women’s Day 2022 (IWD), let’s discuss: How does Umbraco stack up? And what have we done - and are doing - to improve women’s representation in our company and Community?
Our humble beginnings
Though we don’t collect data on the gender of Codegarden attendants, it’s safe to assume most early participants were male, and according to anecdotal accounts, the number of women Umbracians started low but began slowly improving in 2012.
You always remember your first time at Codegarden. We talked to two prominent Community members, Carole Rennie Logan and Lotte Pitcher, to hear their experiences.
Umbraco developer Lotte shared her observations on how Codegarden has evolved over the years:
“As a woman in tech I often find myself counting. How many other women were at my Level 2 Umbraco training in 2011? None. How many at my first Codegarden in 2012? At most 10 out of around 300 people. In 2015 I was one of the first 3 women to be made an Umbraco MVP. Until recently you could spot 0 pictures of women in the official Umbraco starter kit *…
“The good news is that things are significantly improving; there was literally a whole stage-load at Codegarden in 2019! But you know, I still find myself counting, still noticing how many of us (or how few of us) are in the room or on the screen. It’s rare these days that I'm the only one thanks to all the hard work of some excellent people and some wonderful allies in this community. Here's hoping in a few Codegardens’ time I don't feel the need to count!”
Meanwhile, Principal Engineer Carole Rennie Logan first attended Codegarden thanks to a free ticket Twitter shoutout Umbraco founder Niels Hartvig did in honor of International Women’s Day in 2016. Here’s what she told us about the experience, and how it opened up further doors:
“As I am sure is the case for most people, there are certain decision points that have influenced my career. On International Women’s Day 2016, I was sitting at my desk trying to decide if I was brave enough to reply to Niels’ tweet. I decided to go for it and I got a reply letting me know I had a free ticket to Codegarden.
“A few months later I found myself attending the conference in Odense, Denmark. It was at this conference that I learned a lot about the CMS, met lots of really smart people & understood why they call it the “Friendly CMS”!
“It was also through attending Codegarden where I made contacts that led to me first writing for 24 Days in Umbraco and Skrift in the year that followed. These are contributions I am sure that helped with me being awarded Umbraco MVP & being a speaker at Codegarden in 2017.”
How things have evolved over the years
In 2021, Carole tweeted about the growth of women at Codegarden. Take a look:
Umbraco Community Engagement Officer Ilham Boughallat has worked hard to ensure a stronger representation of women speakers at Codegarden, too.
The Call for Speakers features a diversity pledge that shows our commitment to a diverse speaker lineup. This helps send a strong signal to speakers from underrepresented groups and encourages them to submit their talks. Our Code of Conduct has also been updated to support inclusion and ensure a safe environment for all.
Between 2016 and 2021, the percentage of women speakers at Codegarden has grown from 8.5% to 26% of speakers, which is either on par with or significantly higher than at similar conferences.
If you’re interested in extending speakerships to more women at your tech event, here are some of the resources Ilham uses:
- Diversify Tech
- Women Worldwide Network
- Women Talk Design
- Women of Dot Net
- Diversity Tickets (currently paused)
Initiatives to support women in tech
As Carole says, “There is still work to do, as always, but the change in the community over the 6 years has been noticeable.”
Since this time, we’ve worked to create Community initiatives that bring more women to the table. In 2021, we extended free Umbraco Fundamentals courses to 21+ women in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. We’re giving away 16 more Fundamentals courses this year - click here to jump to the bottom of this blog.
“When people ask about IWD initiatives or diversity initiatives in general,” says Carole, “I always say they need to be done right. In the words of Verna Myers, “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance”, so there’s no use in giving free diversity tickets if the environment isn’t inclusive to those who are being invited. For me, the Umbraco Community was one that welcomed and also included us.”
That said, “It hasn’t been easy for us all the time. I particularly appreciate the hard work of the ladies who were often the only women in the room (Lotte, Erica, Janae, to name a few) who worked to make space for more of us in tech communities.”
In Denmark as in most other countries, the disparity of women in STEM starts early. In the past, Umbraco has supported programming initiatives for kids, like Coding Pirates, where many of the participants were young girls.
We are also a Silver Partner in support of HackYourFuture, a nonprofit that "supports refugees, asylum seekers and disadvantaged groups with limited access to further education and the Danish labour market in acquiring the necessary skills to become web developers and entering a very in-demand field."
The growing number of women in our Community
We’re working to shine a light on women in the Community by interviewing these Umbracians for uProfile. In 2021, we were proud to publish six profiles of women devs, half of all stories told that year. (And we’ll do our best to keep that representation constant.)
In 2021, we had 11 Umbraco MVPs who identify as women, 8 of whom are multi-year MVPs. The ratio of men to women MVPs, 62:11, is something we can continue to work on by encouraging and recognizing talent in the Community.
In Carole’s opinion, Codegarden was the catalyst for her decision to get more involved in the Umbraco Community:
“Following a conversation [at Codegarden 2016] with fellow Scottish Umbracians, we decided it would be good to bring back the Glasgow Umbraco meetup. A few weeks later, I found myself hosting the meetup and making my first steps into public speaking.
“Over the next few years I found myself awarded MVP several more times and speaking at events in many countries about coding & my experiences working in tech. All of this I do trace back to that decision point of replying to that IWD tweet.”
Now, Carole and Developer Advocate Emma Burstow regularly host speaker workshops for aspiring speakers at Codegarden (open to everyone, including all genders). This year, Emma kickstarted the Diffs,a joint initiative by HQ and the Community to support diversity in the larger Umbraco ecosystem.
Enlisting more women for the HQ team
Before 2021, Umbraco had a slightly higher percentage of women employees than the Danish average for the software industry, 31-32% compared to 30%. After People, Love, and Culture rep (that’s our friendly name for our HR Manager) Christian Tvede began “hiring like a madman” in 2021, we added a number of new developers to our expanding developer teams.
“There weren’t a lot of female applicants, so this dropped below the average, and is around 25% now. That, of course, bothers me,” says Tvede. D-Team, Umbraco’s developer team and the company’s largest team overall, has 38 developers, of which 3 are women.”
So how do we plan to improve it?
Critically, we want to look at our hiring processes to encourage more women to apply. Tvede’s plans include a proposed women’s mentorship program so the students can “experience Umbraco on the inside [with] a female mentor, and say, oh, that’s how it is to be at an IT workplace.”
Ultimately, our goal is to make Umbraco more visible and attractive for women students looking for an internship or first job.
In 2021, we hired two women developers to D-Team, including Emma Burstow and Julia Gruszczynska, next to long-time student developer Elitsa Marinovska, who was famously featured in the Umbraco Baking Show at Codegarden 2021.
Julia told us she “managed to successfully switch my path from working in media and television to being a developer. How cool is that? :)” She started as an intern in January 2020 and went from student worker to full-time right after graduating from university. “It is a great workplace, full of super nice and helpful people,” she says of Umbraco.
Tvede is also looking into ways to ensure our job ads use gender-neutral language. Since joining, Julia has proposed phrasing and structure to make our job ads more welcoming to women candidates.
After developer Jacob Overgaard noticed that this ad “mentioned only our frontend tech stack,” says Julia, “we decided to add another section at the beginning, specifically mentioning only the frontend 101, i.e. HTML, CSS and JS [...] and move the tech stack list further down. That way we have a clear separation between what we expect people to know (the very basics) and what they can expect to learn (the tech stack).
“The common way of thinking among female candidates and what was my personal belief when I was looking for my first job was that I have to tick all the 'boxes' to apply. So throwing a lot of fancy tech buzzwords at the reader at the beginning of the ad may be quite intimidating,” Julia shares.
She's right. In fact, research suggests that men often apply to vacancies where they meet roughly 60% of the qualifications, while women will generally apply if they feel they meet a full 100%. That's an issue!
I asked Julia about her observations about the state of women in tech.
“First of all, there are not that many of [us], but let's hope this will change shortly. Even though we see many of them in the 'soft' departments, it seems like they are still rare in engineering teams.
“For me, it is a real mystery why there the proportion between men and women in the tech industry is so much imbalanced, despite many women pioneers in this field, like Ada Lovelace. I think better exposure to such role models for girls would help. Maybe one day we will read stories about girls and women who dream of becoming great scientists, not marrying a prince. I'll cross my fingers for that.
“But to end it more optimistically - the women who are already in this industry are extremely supportive and well organized: there are a lot of social and networking initiatives run by companies or just people.”
What can we improve?
At Umbraco, it’s our goal to have a balance across age, gender, and nationality at any given time. In particular, we’re trying to raise the percentage of women employees in all departments at HQ above 30%.
We can and are trying to do more to improve our talent pipeline into entry-level positions at Umbraco. We can also do more to promote women leaders inside the company.
At the moment, we have a strong parental leave policy. Parents have the right to a total of 52 weeks of parental leave, and leave is fully paid for the first 20 weeks. We also have a strong tradition of supporting men employees who take paternity leave, which we know supports healthy, happy families. We can continue offering similar benefits that promote gender equality.
More women have begun joining our weekly padel practices, and I, Chloé, hope to be the first on the Umbraco Unicorns - our football team ⚽
Get a head start on your Umbraco Certified Professional title 🙌
As part of our efforts to #BreakTheBias, we are offering 16 free seats for the Umbraco Fundamentals course to provide women around the world an entry point into tech and web development.
Please be sure to read about our certification structure - Fundamentals is, quite literally, the fundamental course of all titles! :)
If you identify as a woman and are interested in this opportunity, please enter your information in the form by clicking the button below. We look forward to hearing from you!
🚨 This offer has expired.
* Lotte’s P.S. “re: that starter kit... I just realised I'm partly to blame. I was at the Retreat in 2017 when this was worked on. So I could have spoken up then, before it ever went live with just white 'dudes'. So I apologise, Umbraco community, back then I didn't appreciate just how important visibility is. I'm still learning.”