Meet Rising Tech Star Michelle Glauser | Meet the GirlCrewer #81
“Techtonica combines my desire to build diversity in tech as well as to help underrepresented, underprivileged folks.”
It’s not every day that you get picked by LinkedIn to be listed among the top software professionals under the age of 35, but that’s what happened to GirlCrew San Francisco member Michelle Glauser. Michelle is a rising star in the world of tech, and is the founder and CEO of the aptly named Techtonica; a free tech training centre for local, low-income women and non-binary adults. Like many in this industry, Michelle spent many hours learning to code before landing her first job. “After I earned my Master’s in Digital Humanities, I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to get a PhD or do something business-y. Four years ago, I scraped together enough money to attend a coding bootcamp for women and became a software engineer. That career transition tripled my income and felt so great!”
This boost deepened her resolve to become a developer and knowing firsthand the limitations women can face in this area, she’s made it her mission to open the door for others looking to break into this field. “I’ve done a lot of community work to try to get more women to join, feel comfortable in, and thrive in the software industry, where we are majorly outnumbered. I’ve also wanted to help our many San Francisco neighbors struggling and thought that if only they could get the same tech training I did, they’d be empowered the same way.” Despite its increasing wealth, San Francisco has deeply entrenched socio-economic divides, and with women often bearing the brunt of this, Michelle began looking for projects that she could get involved with that would make coding more affordable for low income earners. “…[The] price of tech training has become as expensive, if not more so, than getting a degree at a community college—a price our struggling neighbors could never afford with their current situations. I’ve had an idea for an inexpensive intensive tech training program for a long time, but it kind of felt like one of those “one day” dreams that you never actually get to.”
Thankfully, in 2015 things took off for Michelle in a way she never could have predicted, “last year, I spearheaded the #ILookLikeAnEngineer ad campaign. It was a lot of work and very stressful, but in the end we raised more than $47,000 and were able to display ads showing underrepresented engineers around the Bay Area. Because of that experience, I realized just how much my passion for diversity in tech drives me, and that there’s no better time to move on an idea than now.” Deciding to strike while the iron was hot, Michelle began months of research and founded Techtonica with the simple mission of making tech training accessible to those on the margins. This non-profit organisation not only makes the training a reality, but also offers living and childcare stipends as well as placing users in positions with sponsoring companies at the end of their training. Seeing the project through from concept to where they are now has been a dream come true for Michelle, “Techtonica combines my desire to build diversity in tech as well as to help underrepresented, underprivileged folks.” If this sounds like the kind of project you’d like to support, you can donate to the cause through their website, Techtonica.org.
1) What is the best thing about your role?
All my work is aimed at empowering women and non-binary adults in need and improving diversity in the software industry, so my passion for those causes keeps me going.
2) What do you find most challenging about it?
I’m guessing my answer is one that a lot of founders would give—there’s just never enough time for everything.
3) What is your proudest work related achievement to date?
Having attendees at Techtonica workshops [who] want to continue learning to code is an amazing feeling—I’ve had the privilege of experiencing this many times already, but it never gets old. I can’t wait until the day we place graduates of our first full-timeclass and I can support our graduates as they work professionally in the software industry.
4) What would be your one tip to others who want to get involved in this industry?
To get into the tech industry, I’d encourage you to start learning to code as soon as possible. Here’s a spreadsheet of learning resources. Sorry, had to throw in a second—talk to as many people working in the industry as possible—they’ll keep you going during the rough spots, help you find jobs, give advice, etc.
5) What would be your motto in life, and in work?
Always try to be a good person.
6) What’s your favourite thing about being in GirlCrew?
I love making connections in my area that I otherwise wouldn’t have made.