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Dropbox, Etsy, Jane Street, Tapad, and Tumblr support female programmers at Hacker School

We’re happy to announce that Dropbox, Etsy, Jane Street, Tapad, and Tumblr have all sponsored grants for female programmers for our current batch of Hacker School. Each grant is for $7,000, and makes it possible for a woman to attend who would otherwise not be able to afford to (Hacker School remains free for everyone, so the grants are used for food, housing, and other living expenses during the batch).

This support has helped make our current batch 42% women. These grants make Hacker School bigger, more diverse, and a better experience for everyone involved.

These grants are our hack for how to have a gender-balanced environment without negatively impacting men or lowering the bar for women. The grants work because they increase the pool of qualified women who are able to do Hacker School.

We also believe the grants help signal to women and men around the world that Hacker School is institutionally and structurally committed to having a gender-balanced environment. This helps attract phenomenal people who don’t need financial assistance, in addition to the people who do.

One of the many benefits of having a gender-balanced environment is that, at least within the confines of Hacker School, the pressure to represent or focus on “women in programming” largely fades away, and people are free to focus on programming rather than rehashing tired arguments.

In fact, one of our social rules is that Hacker School is not a place to discuss gender or sexism in tech. This is because the purpose of having a gender-balanced environment is to have a place where women can simply be programmers, rather than forever being seen as “female programmers” or experiencing stereotype threat. There are many places in the world to discuss and debate these issues, but there are precious few where people can avoid them. We want Hacker School to be one of those places (read more in our User’s Manual). We’ve heard from many women that this was one of the most refreshing aspects of Hacker School.

On behalf of all of Hacker School, we’d like to thank Karen Sperling at Dropbox, Collette Ricard and Kellan Elliott-McCrea at Etsy, David Powers and Caitlin Maynard at Jane Street, Michael Moss at Tapad, and Sean McDermott at Tumblr, who have all been essential to making this possible. Thank you!