This month, Chicago will play host to two major events centered around promoting women in technology. The FWD (For Women & Diversity) Collective is holding its Chicago summit at mHUB, and 1871 will host the Chicago Women in Technology Conference only six days later.
But conferences are only one of many ways in which Chicago companies, incubators and organizations work to close the tech gender gap. If you’re interested in getting involved, check out these five local initiatives helping women break into, and thrive in, the world of tech.
No list of Chicago women in tech initiatives is complete without 1871’s WiSTEM. The application-based program runs 12 weeks and is designed to help female founders develop their startups and connect with mentors and investors. Since its first cohort in September 2015, WiSTEM has graduated 51 women-founded companies that have collectively raised over $7 million in funding.
Launched in 2015, Blue1647’s 1919 Women in Technology Initiative brings Chicago women together through education and collaboration. The cohort-based program, named after the year the 19th Amendment passed, lasts 12 weeks and is free to join.
According to the Chicago Tribune, 1919’s focus is on workforce and entrepreneur development. Workshops and training sessions teach coding and business development skills while monthly meetups connect entrepreneurs with mentors from the tech community.
Not all of Chicago’s women in tech initiatives are driven by organizations and incubators. Jellyvision Women in Tech, also known as JellyWIT, promotes diversity and provides career guidance to tech workers of diverse backgrounds. JellyWIT hosts and sponsors events intended to expose attendees to new opportunities and connections. The group launched earlier this year with a kickoff party held at the Jellyvision headquarters.
The goal of MATTER’s new 3.8 initiative –– which gets its name from the date of International Women’s Day –– is to get more women on startup boards. Under the program, female healthcare executives are placed as independent board members at MATTER startups.
The healthtech incubator launched 3.8 in partnership with Horizon Pharma, Takeda, the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association and Northwestern University.
FTW: FinTech Women, a new program from Chicago fintech association FinTEx, is designed to attract more women to the city’s fintech community and celebrate the success of female leaders in the field. The member-based organization will create blog posts, podcasts, roundtable discussions and events, all featuring women from the Chicagoland fintech community. The group is guided by an executive advisory council made up of four female fintech vets.
Photos via featured companies, social media and Shutterstock.