There is a stark gender gap in the tech industry, with women making up just 21% of the U.K.’s tech industry and black women making up less than 3%. The U.K.’s tech job market is projected to be worth £30 billion by 2025 – six times larger than it is now – and a diverse talent pipeline will need to be put in place to unlock this value.
UK-based business that supports women in coding education and employment for free, Code First Girls has raised £4.5 million to accelerate the company’s growth and close the gender gap in the traditionally male-dominated tech industry.
The Series A fundraise was led by Active Partners and backed by prolific female angel investors, including Michelle Kennedy, former director at Bumble and CEO and founder at Peanut, Rona Ruthen, co-founder and COO at Stealth and former VP at Monzo, Clare Johnston, founder of Up Group, Claire Davenport, CEO at notonthehighstreet, Rosaleen Blair, founder and chair at AMS, Karen Kerrigan, COO at MoneyBox and Phillip David Burton, COO at Bloom & Wild.
Founded in 2013 by Alice Bentinck and Matthew Clifford, Code First Girls aims to provide opportunities to women, alongside free online coding courses. The platform has already helped 80,000 women learn to code and by working with companies globally, is boosting employability, diversity and social mobility, and transforming local economies and communities. According to the company, the platform has taught five times as many women to code as the entire U.K. university undergraduate system.
Post the funding, Code First Girls plans to put over 26,000 women through the ‘CFGdegree’ and place them into tech roles over the next five years. Given an average starting salary in tech, this equates to over £1 billion in economic opportunities for women entering the tech industry.
Anna Brailsford, CEO of Code First Girls, said: “Our mission is to close the serious, long-term gender gap in the tech industry by giving women the opportunity to learn to code and get jobs in tech, at no cost to them. We’re growing at an incredibly fast pace, with businesses, government and universities across the country getting on board. We’re proud of both our social and commercial impact, having already taught 80,000 women to code for free, linking talent with jobs, and having recently 10xed our revenue and user base. Our next goal is to become the world’s first EdTech unicorn dedicated to women.”
Claire Davenport, CEO of notonthehighstreet.com, added: “I passionately believe we need to give women more routes into the tech industry. There is still a fundamental inequality in terms of the encouragement girls receive to get into tech, access to learning and information, and the number of female role models in the sector. All of that works together to cut women off from future careers in tech and the many opportunities such careers can bring.”
Tom Profumo, investor at Active Partners, added: “Traditional education providers are failing to address the significant tech talent shortages across the industry today, as well as the huge lack of diverse talent. Code First Girls offers the solution to this problem. By providing free coding courses for all women and supporting them into employment at some of the world’s biggest companies, Code First Girls is facilitating social mobility, boosting the diverse tech talent pool and addressing the tech skills gap.”