TechSprint offers international recognised coding programme for Malaysian women

  • In collaboration with CodeOp based in Spain, to offer 11 week full-stack developer course
  • Founders Vani Mahadevan and Purnima Wijendra look to address market gap they see

 TechSprint offers international recognised coding programme for Malaysian women

United by a strong desire to fix a market gap they see and determined to break a gender-related cultural norm that is especially strong in Asia, a former accountant and a former civil engineer tuned data scientist have taken it upon themselves to equip women in Malaysia with highly in demand tech skills as their weapon to break free from outdated norms and beliefs.

Vani Mahadevan, an accountant along with Purnima Wijendra who started her career as a Civil Engineer and subsequently pursued her Masters of Science, Intelligence and Analytics from University Teknologi Malaysia, have launched TechSprint, a new initiative founded to fast-track women’s careers in technology in Malaysia and Southeast Asia.

On why this is important, Vani shares two reasons: “The tech industry is very much male-dominated, and for women, they often think about marriage at the age of 25 or 26, and in Asian cultures, they tend to put their careers on hold.”

Though it is a hard fact to swallow, an article in Forbes reports that gender-related cultural expectations are still tipped against women, along with workplace discrimination and harassment. It is an issue the TechSprint founders feel strongly about. Therefore, to help bridge the re-entry of these women into the workforce, they have collaborated with CodeOp Spain to offer a full-time Full Stack Development (FSD) 11-week bootcamp designed to provide women with the foundations needed to start their careers in technology.

[Para edited for accuracy.]

Vani Mahadevan (left) & Purnima Wijendra believe TechSprint can fast-track women’s careers in technology in Malaysia and Southeast Asia.

Each cohort will be open to 12 participants. What’s interesting about the programme is that having a tech background is not necessary. But those interested will go through an interview process and assessments to establish aptitude. “For those who have some basic skills, we want to upskill them. But there are no pre-requisites for entry. You can basically start from ground zero. In three months, you’ll have enough knowledge to be a full stack developer and offer your services either through the gig economy or even full-time work,” says Purnima.

If it sound too good to be true, Purnima, a data scientist who also runs the non-profit Kuala Lumpur School of Artificial Intelligence Workshop, offers some justification into the programme length and structure, versus a university degree. “This programme is totally hands-on. We teach you the basics, so by the time you graduate, you will at least know how to build a simple app, whereas university programmes touch a lot of theory and programming.”

Eager to make an impact to help women, Purnima shares that based on her experience, while women comprise approximately 50% of the total population in Malaysia, “this unfortunately is not reflected in the tech industry where women only make up a small percentage of the sector’s workforce. As the nation moves towards IR 4.0, I believe we need to get more skilled women into the tech industry who are able to contribute effectively.”

Taking their first step to making this happen, TechSprint has partnered with, CodeOp Spain, a coding school for women based in Barcelona, founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Katrina Walker who shares the same drive as Vani and Purnima in empowering women using technical skills. “We want to share the power of technical knowledge with folks who’ve traditionally not been encouraged to pursue careers in the tech industry and we believe that, if you build it, they will come,” says Walker.

TechSprint will offer the first CodeOp programme in Asia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. CodeOp offers beginner and advanced level bootcamps to female students to equip them with the skills needed to become leading developers and data analysts in their fields. The first cohort starts on 10 February 2020.

In addition to the CodeOp programme, TechSprint will also offer shorter 2-5 day programs in Data Science for women who wish to kickstart a career in this growing field by acquiring basic skillsets before signing up for a longer program.

And while there is no shortage of such programmes in the market, both Vani and Purnima believe that their women focused programmes will strike a chord in the market. “We know there’s a need and are confident that TechSprint can make an impact,” says Vani.

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