Hacker School sets out to bring in more women programmers, succeeds

Hacker School is an intensive, three-month residential programming bootcamp in NYC. Some students receive tuition grants funded jointly by Etsy, 37 Signals, and Yammer. This year, they decided to focus on increasing the number of awesome women programmers participating in Hacker School, and did an amazing job. Etsy VP of Engineering Marc Hedlund is justifiably proud:

When we announced the program, we were aiming to find 20 women to join the summer class. The previous class, in the spring, had only around 7 female applicants and wound up with 1 female student, so we knew it would take a big effort to get to our goal. Since Hacker School runs admissions and structures the classes, Etsy’s primary role was to get the word out about the grants — and we asked for help from our community in reaching as many great candidates as we could.

To say that worked would be a serious understatement. With help from all of you, Hacker School received applications from 661 women, nearly a 100-times increase from the previous session. (As they put it, they received more applications this time from women named Sarah, than all applications from women for all previous sessions combined.) Hacker School has admitted 23 of those women for the summer program — exceeding our original goal by 3. It’s been incredibly exciting to see.

The response to the Hacker Grants program was much larger than we expected. 597 (90%) of the 661 female applicants requested financial assistance. We believe that the existence of the grants did play a major role in causing the increase in applications from women. Of the 23 female students admitted, 18 of them requested grants — 8 more than we’d planned to provide.

Update on the Hacker Grants Program (via O'Reilly Radar)


  1. From the FAQ:

    How big is Hacker School?Our current batch is 20 students, not including us (Nick, Dave, and Sonali). We accept as many students as we think we can accommodate and keep the batch good.

    So I guess there are more women in the incoming class than there are total people in the current class, period. That’s pretty cool.

  2. On the other hand, their acceptance ratio for women is 1/4 what it was before and they rejected over 106 times as many women.

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