Etsy creates Hacker School Grants for female developers

Krystal Peak · April 6, 2012 · Short URL:

Etsy wants more female programmers in the field to help with female-consumer products, services

The world of hand-made and curated decor and fashion pieces is driven by female consumers and now one of the leaders in the e-commerce fast-riser Etsy is looking to get women to advance the backend as well.

The online community for handmade and vintage goods is launching its Hacker Grant with the intention bringing on 40 students, half of which the company would like to be female -- and will provide grants to up to 10 female developers.

The newly announced Hacker Grant is aimed at bringing developers to the startup’s Brooklyn headquarters for the summer, where they will direct their coding skills for the e-commerce evolution.

The grants concept, spearheaded by Etsy engineering Vice President Marc Hedlund, was created as another tool to encourage female developers to enter the field with equal training.

“I’ve spent the last several years in heavily male-dominated environments,” Hacker School co-founder Nick Bergson-Shilcock wrote in his blog. “I think about them whenever I’m in a room of programmers and there’s only one woman. No matter how welcoming and friendly the environment, you burn at least a few cycles being cognizant of the fact you’re different from most of the people around you.”

Female developers can apply for the grants between now and May 7.

Bergson-Shilcock also said that he has seen how far from equity the field of science and electrical engineering is, so with commerce sites that are aimed at a female audience they are being created by males with little intuition in the female perspective.

While Hacker School and Etsy can't guarantee that they will get 20 qualified students to apply, they are making the efforts to make that barrier of entry as thin as possible.

Back in February, at the the 2012 TechFellow Awards, three female leaders in tech received awards. That's three out of five -- not too bad for a male-dominated field. The award recipients were Heather Harde, former CEO of TechCrunch, Clara Shih, co-founder and CEO of Hearsay Social and Victoria Ransom, founder and CEO of Wildfire Interactive. 

Etsy has been growing strong and hasn't taken on more VC funding since 2010 when it received its Series E round and helped Etsy raise $20 million, tripling its pre-money valuation to just under $300 million.  Etsy also received funding from previous investors Accel and Hubert Burda Media, and has raised $52 million overall since its founding in 2005. Past rounds have also included Union Square Ventures.


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