Founder Of Code Like a Girl – Ally Watson – Is Awarded The Order of Australia Medal

Pamela Connellan
on 28 January 2022

The founder of Code Like a Girl – Ally Watson – was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) on Australia Day. Ally is a software engineer who spent years working as a lone-female-developer and was recognised for her work in promoting diversity and opportunities for women in tech.

In 2015 she started her company called Code Like a Girl – inspired by her passion for education and training for women in the field of coding and software development. Ally wanted to close the gender gap within the tech industry and build a future where women didn’t feel like outsiders in STEM industries in Australia.

“Working in the gender-equality space can feel like a relentless marathon, many people tell you it can’t be achieved in your lifetime,” Ally said recently, after being awarded the OAM. “It takes a rare kind of optimism to keep pushing as hard as we do at Code Like a Girl and moments like this matter. When the country you call home, sees you and recognises your work. It serves as great motivation to keep pushing forward, knowing how much more needs to be done.”

Over the past six years, Ally’s organisation has helped thousands of girls, women and other gender minorities, learn coding and develop useful digital skills for their ongoing career.

As Ally has said: “It’s hard to believe what started as a passion project in my bedroom has led to the impact we’ve made to date.” 

Although Code Like a Girl has been quite successful in training and placing women in positions in STEM industries, Ally has said she still believes there is still much to be done to include women in STEM.  When the pandemic first started in early 2021, she said she’d found the pandemic was highlighting the gender gap even further.

“This pandemic has turned cracks into chasms,” said Ally, “making it all-to-clear that the gendered division of our workforce is leaving our women behind. With demand for technologists seeing huge growth, it is the perfect time to re-skill the women with in-demand digital skills.”

“The pandemic has seen predictions around labour market disruptions accelerated and higher numbers of automation and digitalisation has made it more challenging for women to participate,” she added.

In support of this, the UN’s Eco Forum Gender Gap Report 2021 revealed roles common in low-to middle-income women are likely to be disproportionately represented among jobs erased by automation and that several emerging roles will need disruptive technical skills — an area where women are severely underrepresented. 

About Code Like a Girl: In 2020, Code Like a Girl released an online coding course aimed at closing the gender gap in IT education, with more than a hundred students enrolling. The company’s courses are delivered 100% online which means they’ve been able to attract a diverse range of women across Australia nationally. Later in 2022, Code Like a Girl will launch a ECSTRA Foundation funded program called “Career Track” which will train and place women and non-binary people into entry-level technical jobs. The program will ensure Code Like a Girl continues to increase gender diversity within the tech industries across the country.

For more from Code Like a Girl, visit here.

For more from Women Love Tech on coding, visit here.

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