Diversifying the field: YWeb Career Academy

Adding diversity
Diversifying the field: YWeb Career Academy

The technology field has been criticized for its lack of workforce diversity, especially after major tech companies last year released statistics that showed their employees were largely male and white. To address this problem locally, YWCA Madison launched a project last year called YWeb Career Academy, also referred to as YWebCA.

The program is geared toward women and people of color, ages seventeen to twenty-five. Participants in the program gain training in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Git and User Experience design and get mentoring and help with job readiness. Class instruction consists of lectures, lab discussion and visits to work sites. On completion, participants are placed in a paid internship. Jim Remsik, an instructor and founder of adorable.io, says the skills learned are valuable, but so is the networking. “It’s not what you know, it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you,” says Remsik. “So that’s the problem we’re trying to solve. We’re trying to build networks of people who don’t always intersect.”

What is social innovation?

According to Stanford University’s Social Innovation Review, social innovation is a “novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable or just than existing solutions” and benefits primarily society as a whole rather than private individuals.

It includes these elements:

Increasing employment, productivity and economic growth

Justice, fairness, environmental preservation, improved health, arts and culture and better education

A social innovation:

Can be a product, production process or technology (much like innovation in general), but it can also be a principle, an idea, a piece of legislation, a social movement, an intervention or some combination of them.

Recognizes the fundamental role of cross-sector dynamics: exchanging ideas and values, shifting roles and relationships and blending public, philanthropic and private resources. Innovation blossoms where the sectors converge.

Can’t be understood, let alone solved, without involving the nonprofit, public and private sectors.

The M List
Madison Magazine‘s M List is a who’s who of organizations and individuals who are having an impact on our local culture and economy. In its third year, the M List recognizes those making strides in the area of social innovation. Last year’s list of innovators were in the food industry. The original M List, in 2013, honored the technology sector. The 2014 M List honored “Foodtastic” entrepreneurs and innovators.

Click here to return to the 2015 M List.