Women make up 26 percent of the professional computing jobs in the U.S., and as Nashua Community College prepared to debut a new Front and Back End Coding Boot Camps this fall, organizers wanted to be sure women were well represented in the program.
What they didn’t expect was women to comprise the majority of the first Front End Coding Boot Camp, and half of the Back End Coding camp.
“We have a larger amount of women, at least in noncredit programs, enrolling right now,” said Kim Eckenrode, Computer Training Instructor at NCC and contact for the coding boot camps. Eckenrode said female students are gravitating to coding to give themselves options, “Most of the women who contact me are doing some reassessing, or they have lost their job, or were home for a reason. They are finding that they want to upskill, and they realize it’s the computer skills they need. A lot of them don’t have coding experience, but when they look at ‘what career I can get that can help me provide for my family?’ Computers is it. It’s very exciting.”
This comes as 865,000 women left the workforce in September 2020 alone – four times that of male workers. Also, women new to the workforce are also looking for ways to stand out in a candidate pool, and a 100 percent remote program is especially appealing in this climate.
100 Percent Remote Learning
“This program was created to be online from the outset, so there’s a lot of security that comes with it,” said Renée Dubuc, a student in the Back End Coding Boot Camp, “It’s nice not having to worry about whether school will be remote; it doesn’t matter, we’re all online. It gives you peace of mind and takes the risk away.”
Dubuc earned her liberal arts associate degree at NCC, and her bachelor’s in graphic design and marketing at Southern NH University this spring. “Over the last two years while working on my bachelor’s degree at SNHU, I became more interested in coding when taking classes like web design.”
She said the combination of her degree and coding training will help her be a “jack of all trades,” and increase her chances of finding work. “There are jobs out there, but there’s a lot of competition, and this will give us an edge. Some people in the class already have experience in coding, and some are new. About half are looking to get back in or get higher up in the industry. The other half are looking to break into it.”
The Back End and Front End boot camps each comprise 3 courses, and last 18 weeks total. Speaking in early November, Dubuc was in week 5 of the first course. “We also have a career services component every other week for the 18 weeks,” she said.
While this group is local to New Hampshire, the parent school Promineo Tech has classes all over the country, and partners with local schools to support students.
Collaboration With Employment Support Agencies
Eckenrode has been working with Southern NH Services and the NH Department of Health and Human Services to get the word out, with positive results – especially for women. “Everyone who has contacted me through Health and Human Services has been on behalf of a woman,” she said. The boot camps are eligible for WIOA funds.
Welcoming so many women into the boot camps was especially gratifying for Eckenrode, who earned her computer science and business degree in 1990 from Saint Anselm College.
“At the time, there were 5 women out of about 30 students. I was fortunate that I had vocational-technical classes in my high school in Keene, so I took a computer class because my mother said it was something ‘everybody should know.’”
Her programming class in high school led to a degree in computer science, six years of coding for the Department of Transportation, a master’s of education degree, and then a career in computer instruction at the college level.
“I love to encourage girls and women in coding. That’s why I go to the Women in Tech Breakfast hosted by the New Hampshire Tech Alliance,” said Eckenrode. It’s a misconception women don’t have a penchant for coding, she said, “If you like puzzles, if you like escape rooms – this is something you should consider.”
The boot camps are noncredit, but some students have already said they intend to pursue degrees after landing stable jobs. “This is making a pathway to education for some people. We have partnerships with businesses, and hopefully it’s the step that gets them on the way to careers that they never envisioned.”