Expert Insights on Closing the Gender Gap from Katrina Walker, CEO of CodeOp

6 minutes read

Last year, TD SYNNEX donated two scholarships on behalf of the attendees of our European Vendor Partner Summit to CodeOp – an international tech school for women, transgender, and non-binary individuals (women+).

We recently caught up with Katrina Walker, founder and CEO of CodeOp who gave us an update on the recipients of the scholarships and shared her views on how companies can help women to advance their careers in the tech industry and avoid “pink washing”.

To learn more about CodeOp and their mission, visit

Full Transcript

TD SYNNEX: Where are we on the journey of making the tech industry a more just place for all?

Katrina: We have a chronic gender disparity in tech and that kind of statistic is going to take us some time to reduce. Right now, it’s been hovering around 28% of the tech workforce is made up of women. In Europe, I think it’s around 17%. In the six years that we’ve been doing what we’re doing at CodeOp, it’s more or less stayed the same. You have moments where it contracts and you have moments where it improves slightly. The general trajectory I think is positive and I have faith in everything that’s happening right now in terms of building more awareness around the issue and even, for example, in Spain, we have quotas. That says if you’re a company with fifty or more employees, you need to either make sure you have gender parity in certain areas of the company and if you don’t, then you need to have a diversity plan in place. There’s growing momentum on the issue, but it’s going to take us a long time to reach gender parity.

TD SYNNEX: How can companies avoid “pink washing” and support women+ in tech year round?

Katrina: Internally for a company, I think that there’s a lot of policies that you can institute that support women specifically and to understand what those policies should be means, it means you need to be talking to your employees, especially seeking out diverse folks and not assuming that you have all the answers of what’s really going to work for your staff. Someone once said, “You measure what you treasure,” so if you’re not measuring it, ask yourself why are you not measuring something. Is it because you don’t care about it, or do you have blinders up? And this is one reason why you need diversity at higher levels to instigate and encourage these kinds of things.

With our graduates, we check in with them every two years and we say, “What’s really worked for you at your company?” And time after time, what we hear is really strong onboarding as well as mentoring programs – having a buddy system. This can really help women feel more comfortable at a company, that they have one person internally who’s familiar with the systems who can actually advocate as well as support them with something that they’re learning. I think this is also an important piece. It’s just a matter of whether you are really willing prioritize it beyond the March.

TD SYNNEX: Last year TD SYNNEX donated two scholarships on behalf of our attendees of our European Vendor Partner Summit (EVPS). Can you share anything about the recipients and how the course has affected their lives?

Kartina: Two women were awarded the scholarships – amazing game-changing opportunities for them. They’re both still in the program actually training. One is doing a part time program, one is doing a full time program. One is doing data science and the other is doing full stack development. So the full stack developer, she’s a mom based in the UK. There’s basically no other way she would have had this opportunity without the TD SYNNEX scholarship. And she is in project phase now of the full stack development bootcamp. So she’s already created her MVP. She’s got two more projects to build and then we’ll get into the career module and she will have graduated and we can begin finding work for her. And the other woman, she’s doing data science, originally from Morocco living in Canada. She is now in the machine learning module of the data science bootcamp, which is the crux of the program, so it’s a challenging time. She’s done an incredible job because, in fact, she had some technical experience. Our data science program is a more advanced programs, so it requires some kind of STEM background. So she has some technical background which has enabled her to really support her colleagues who have had less of a technical background. So she’s been a tremendous advocate for her peers, good support, exactly the kind of student we want in the CodeOp community. So next year you’ll come back and we’ll do a retrospective to see where are they now. But at the moment, yeah, they’re still trekking through the course.

TD SYNNEX: What’s next for CodeOp? How do you see the project growing?

Katrina: Coding schools have been around since 2010. We have a lot of data that shows this is a really high impact educational model, which is why coding schools have proliferated around the world. Still, despite the chronic gender disparity, in fact, there are not a lot of coding schools applying this to that problem. So the idea is to expand our mission, expand our reach to get more women, trans, and nonbinary people learning technology. So we’re in Barcelona now, we’re incorporated in the UK, we’ve done pilots in Malaysia and Brazil. Our students come from 80 countries worldwide already. We’d certainly like to develop more campuses around the world to extend our reach because, like I said, there’s just not a lot of spaces like this.

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