Hi, I'm Tina Lee, founder of MotherCoders, a new venture that I'm affectionately calling my 3rd baby.
Why? Because I have 2 actual babies in real life, and MotherCoders was founded last September -- 4 months after my second daughter was born.
Believe or not, the decision-making process behind starting MotherCoders was very similar to the one my husband and I used when we contemplated whether to add another child to our family a few months after our first daughter turned 1. It was similar in that it required us to grapple with the same tough questions:
1) Is this the right time?
2) Do we have capacity?
3) Can we afford this?
4) Are we doing this for the right reasons?
The answers to Questions 1-3 were pretty much a resounding, ROFLMAO, "Noooooo!"
Because the truth of the matter is that my husband and I are struggling -- as sleep-deprived new parents (redundant, obvi), as kids of immigrants and first-generation college grads steeped in student loan debt, as partners in a marriage where both people are equally committed to their careers.
And yet, here we are, getting ready to run a pilot to test whether a tech orientation program that combines technical skill and industry knowledge building with peer and professional support, along with on-site childcare, can help on-ramp 6 fabulously talented moms to technical careers in the new economy.
One of the things about this pilot I'm most proud of is that the cost for each mom to participate was only $149, money that went directly to Skillcrush, a woman-founded online learning platform with whom we've partnered to provide the coding component of our curriculum. (Normally offered at $299 per person, Skillcrush gave our students this extremely special discount to show their support.) All other parts of this pilot -- everything from childcare to in-class instruction to lunch -- will be provided for FREE thanks to the generosity of over 60 donors.
And except for NextSpace/NextKids -- another supportive partner who's extended a very generous discount to us for facility rental and childcare services, everyone involved in this effort is donating their time, including our panel of rockstar speakers and guest lecturers. Including yours truly.
And why is everyone working so hard to make MotherCoders a success? Why do I keep pushing through in spite of extreme sleep deprivation and physical and emotional exhaustion?
Because when I was working full-time and wanted to get more proficient in computer programming, I couldn't find resources that worked well given my parenting and work responsibilities, time and financial constraints, and need for learning environments that involve lots of social interaction and peer support.
That all-weekend workshop or weeknight coding session? -- Yes, but only once in a while because my kids go to daycare all day during the week and my husband works full-time, so weeknights and weekends are generally reserved for precious family time.
That online course with individual homework and virtual hangouts? -- Possibly, if I'm not too exhausted after I put the kids to bed, presuming they do go to bed and stay there, and I feel connected enough to my cohort to keep up.
That immersive, full-time training program? -- Totally awesome if I was certain enough about my career path and could afford the financial investment.
And here's the thing: I'm fairly fluent in tech and know where to look; plenty of moms who aren't already immersed in tech do not.
So, essentially, we're here because I (well, we, really) answered "Hell yes!" to Question 4.
Because plenty of studies show that focusing on the development of women yields broad social, political, and economic benefits for everyone, well on into the next generation.
Because we've reached a precarious time in our country when the digital divide is becoming dangerously synonymous with the economic divide.
Because while lots of resources are being devoted to teaching tech literacy and programming skills to under-represented groups and beyond (which is awesome), we here at MotherCoders have yet to find anything that's designed to meet the unique needs of moms (not awesome).
Because in order to create a more dynamic, sustainable, and inclusive economy, we need to enable more moms to contribute meaningfully.
I'm so proud of the cohort of moms we've selected for our pilot and hope you'll follow their progress over the next 6 weeks as we test out our curriculum.
If you'd like to help, we're currently in need of sponsorship for 3 of our speaker lunch sessions. We're also fundraising to make a video about our pilot, which we plan to use to promote our program.
It takes a village to raise a baby. I hope you're all in this with me.
Because my girls. And your girls. And, of course, our boys, too.