Anna Brailsford featured

Inspirational Woman: Anna Brailsford | CEO, Code First: Girls

Anna Brailsford

Anna is the CEO of Code First: Girls and a Board Member for the Institute of Coding.

Before joining CF:G Anna was the CEO and co-founder of Founders Factory incubated EdTech startup Frisbee. Prior to that, Anna was the Commercial Director of and LinkedIn. When LinkedIn acquired Lynda for $1.5 Billion in April 2015, she became part of the fourth-largest acquisition in social media history and subsequently contributed to the creation of LinkedIn Learning.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I’m CEO of Code First: Girls. We have educated and built one of the largest communities of female tech talent in the UK. My current focus is connecting women to economic opportunity and jobs in the tech industry. Over the years I have co-founded my own EdTech startup and was the Commercial Director of, which was bought by LinkedIn for $1.5bn. I started off in family-run businesses and have always gravitated towards entrepreneurial roles.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not really. On reflection, the only thing I have ever really planned is my education. I think success is often what happens when you are making other plans. I find being overly prescriptive can often curtail opportunity. The best decisions I have made about my career aren’t necessarily safe or predictable.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

I’ve faced countless challenges. I find the fear of personal and professional failure can often hold people back. It’s taken me some time to accept that you can’t always get it right and that sometimes the difference between success and failure is being in the right place at the right time.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

On paper, it would probably be contributing to the fourth-largest acquisition in social media history. However, on a personal level, it is definitely the extent to which I have benefited from hyper-growth environments. It leads to a different type of mindset. I think career achievements are simply labels, but mindset will shape you.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

People. If you have the right people around you and the requisite talent, you can achieve almost anything. The biggest thing I look for in a hire is intellect, creativity, and the potential for mutual growth. Ironically, that is exactly what a previous mentor said about hiring me. Success is not isolated to a certain point in your life or one person, it is an ongoing process and recognition that the best people will challenge you to see the world differently.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

One of the greatest experiences you can get is in a startup environment, it teaches you about the different layers of a technology business. Many corporations are actively looking for some startup experience and it is often perceived very positively for both business and technical roles.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Yes, that is a well-established fact. The ‘why’ is actually very complex and is subject to countless studies. In my opinion, we need to reframe the debate. It’s not enough to get more women into tech; we should focus on developing future female leaders across the sector. Leadership helps set the tone and in my opinion barriers are often a product of culture.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

Stop talking and start acting. There have been some phenomenal moves forward recently with some well-known brands pledging a 50:50 workforce in coming years. The challenge for many of these companies will be retaining women so they can start to influence the leadership pipeline. Some clear wins include mentorship programmes, flexible family working, equal paternity leave, career mobility and focusing on authentic leadership.

There is currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I would make future technologies, entrepreneurship and business a considerable part of the national curriculum, with a particular focus on strong female role models from within the industry. Young women are statistically outperforming men when it comes to many academic subjects, however we are not equipping them with the support, confidence and environment to perceive themselves as future leaders in a male-dominated space.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, (eg Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc? )

I really believe in networks. Being in the tech industry can be lonely; it pays off to know that others may be experiencing similar emotions and insecurities. I’d recommend being at events where you can share without fear of judgement; there are many fantastic women out there who are willing to listen. I’ve also recently started listening to the Guilty Feminist - it combines two of my favourite things, comedy and some kick-ass women.

BT & Code First Girls partnership

BT launches partnership with Code First Girls to close the UK gender skills gap in tech

BT & Code First Girls partnership

BT has announced a new strategic partnership with Code First Girls, to work to close the gender skills gap in the UK technology sector.

The partnership, which includes funding from BT, helps enable Code First Girls, to provide £10,000 worth of free education to every woman undertaking a course with them and to upskill upwards of 900 women. Participating women will also benefit from the expertise of BT’s world class technologists who have helped to shape the Code First Girls courses, ensuring the next generation of women in technology are equipped with the skills they need to succeed.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic risks having regressive consequences on gender equality due to the economic impact on employment and retention. To tackle this, and to boost the representation of women in technology roles, BT is committing to provide the tools, support and skills women need to excel in the fields of technology and IT. Within BT, TechWomen, an award-winning 12-month development programme, encourages and equips more women to move into senior technology jobs across the business. Meanwhile, BT’s new strategic partnership with Code First Girls will address the need for an increased pipeline of female talent with the technical skills required for tech-focused roles.

BT’s new strategic partnership includes financial support for Code First Girls to provide their services for free, along with offering support for the design and delivery of Code First Girls courses, which are available free to women in full-time education and recent graduates. These courses include nanodegrees, classes and open online courses in a range of skills from Python and SQL coding to website development.

Code First Girls’ nanodegree offering was influenced by their furtHER programme, a 4-month intensive full-time coding course for women, designed and delivered with the help of BT technologists. The aim of these courses is to boost recruitment of women from non-STEM backgrounds into technology jobs and to equip participants with the technical skills they need to begin an entry-level or graduate technology role.

Speaking about the partnership, Cathryn Ross, Group Regulatory Affairs Director at BT Group, and sponsor of BT’s TechWomen programme, said, “It is critically important that our tech sector reflects the diversity of the society it serves."

"At BT, as a leading UK technology company, we are playing our part to help close the gender skills gap in tech."

"Our TechWomen programme helps pave the way for women in technology to progress into senior roles at BT, but our work can’t stop there; we must support the next generation of women outside our organisation and before they enter the workforce too."

"We’ve had a long-standing relationship with Code First Girls and our new partnership signifies an important milestone in our shared ambition to support and encourage women into technology roles.”

Anna Brailsford, CEO at Code First Girls, added, “At a time when women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, our priority is to help women achieve fair employment in the tech industry."

"We have seen a vast increase in interest for our courses, since the first lockdown, with over 800 percent growth in registrations for classes."

"Through our new partnership with BT and expanded corporate partnerships, we’re able to provide more women than ever with the opportunities to learn coding, build confidence through mentorship and gain access to a wide range of careers in technology.”

WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here.

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woman coding on laptop, Code First Girls

Code First Girls surpasses 20,000 coding target & announces plans to double female tech community

woman coding on laptop, Code First Girls

Code First Girls has surpassed its goal to teach 20,000 UK women to code, and announces plans to double this female tech community.

Code First Girls, the UK social enterprise working to close the gender gap in technology, has today announced it has surpassed its 2017 campaign goal to teach over 20,000 young women how to code in the UK and Ireland. Over the past three years, Code First Girls has become the largest provider of free coding courses for women, having delivered over £14million worth of free technology education. The announcement comes at a critical time to close the IT skills gap, only 19 percent of those pursuing Computer Science at higher education level are women.

As part of Code First Girls’ ongoing commitment to increase the representation of women in technology, the social enterprise is launching its 2021 vision to give women the fair advantage. Code First Girls is pledging to double its community of women in technology in 2021, in an effort to close the growing skills gap in the UK.

As part of their new strategy, Code First Girls are working with UK employers, across a range of industries, to develop twelve week nano degree programmes, which specifically train women for jobs including software developers. The social enterprise will also offer a breadth of short and accessible online courses designed to impart technical skills, confidence or career discovery and classes to teach coding fundamentals in web development, Python or data.

The announcement comes on the heels of recent data from the Office of National Statistics, which highlights that women only make up 17 percent of IT professionals, a trend that has remained stagnant over the past ten years. There is an urgent need to diversity the industry, in order to achieve gender parity.

Speaking about plans, Anna Brailsford, CEO at Code First Girls, said, "We're thrilled to have been able to deliver on our promise to help 20,000 women learn to code."

"But we are just getting started."

"We're launching a new strategy and urging businesses to help close the gender gap further through investing in female talent that want a career in tech, and create additional possibilities for them."

“COVID-19 accelerated appetite for coding education, as we saw an unprecedented growth, by 800 percent, in registrations for our virtual classes during lockdown."

"Coding education is important, now more than ever."

"Over the last few months, we have been working to help women who have been displaced by COVID-19 redundancies or entering a tough graduate market to reskill and find employment."

"Our priority has been to help women achieve jobs, at a time of deep economic and social uncertainty.”

Alice Bentinck MBE, co-founder of Code First Girls and Entrepreneur First, added, “Over the last three years, Code First Girls has made huge strides in getting more women in technology through partnering with universities and businesses to run coding, mentorship and upskill programmes."

"The work the team is doing is fundamental to closing the skills gap and enabling young women to feel empowered to select a wide range of careers available in technology, as well as providing them with the confidence to succeed.”

WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Code First Girls launches Code Fest 2020

Code First Girls Code Fest 2020

Code First Girls has announced the launch of their new digital skills and talent event, Code Fest 2020.

Taking place during the month of September, Code Fest 2020 is launching in time for freshers weeks and the graduate hiring season with an array of events, panels, skill sessions and keynote speeches covering topics from diversity and inclusion, to the future of technology.

With over 17,000 community coding members and 58 nationalities represented, companies will have the opportunity to showcase their commitment to diversity and inclusion by building direct relationships with potential future employees and providing a digital learning and skills experience to attract tech talent.

On the flip side, the diverse group of talented women will be able to connect and network with 50+ speakers and businesses in the tech space, from high-growth startups to enterprise-level companies. With 48 per cent of Code First Girls' community citing “job uncertainty” as being their biggest fear for their career in our recent survey, they have included a week dedicated to coaching groups of high-potential women (who have completed a Code First Girls course) to build their skills across job searching, applying, and interviewing, linking them directly to hiring businesses.

Speaking about the event, Anna Brailsford, CEO of Code First Girls said, “It is a critical time for companies to deliver on their promises of diversity and inclusion, and Code Fest 2020 allows businesses of all sizes to get involved and connect with a diverse group of talented women and build the momentum with their hiring pipelines or company initiatives."

"Equally, our community is constantly telling us that they want to be involved with companies who are committed to improving diversity and having a positive social impact”.

Code Fest Girls 2020 will run from 1st September until 24th September. There are a limited number of slots available for companies who are interested in participating, and registration for attendees will open in August.

For more information or schedule of events visit

WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Code First Girls - Career Switcher

Code First Girls launches subsidised coding courses in web development, python & database management

Code First Girls - Career Switcher courses

Starting in May, Code First Girls are offering 4 week, subsidised coding courses in web development, python and database management, specifically for those seeking a transition into a role in technology.

Who are Code First Girls?

Code First Girls are a social enterprise that provides coding educational interventions for women who are interested in a career in technology. Code First Girls launched in 2015, with a mission to transform technology through educational opportunity. So far, they have taught over 14,000 women how to code and have connected them with 40+ top employers.

What are the courses?

Delivered virtually in small classes of 15 with dedicated and experienced instructors, the courses are structured with two evening classes a week (6-8pm) for four weeks. Designed to help women develop industry endorsed skills through hands-on projects, participants finish the course with an applied knowledge of coding languages like HTML, CSS, and Javascript, Python, or SQL. Courses start in May, June, and July and run for four weeks.

What comes after the course?

As an alumnus of Code First Girls, you will have access to exclusive webinars, events, continuous education, and job postings directly to the CFG community. You will be sent roles relevant to your course and if you decide to apply, Code First Girls will provide coaching and support to aid your application process.

What kind of jobs do Code First Girls' alumni find?

Graduates of their web development course find jobs as front-end developers, software engineers, or visualization architects. Those who complete their Python or SQL courses are in demand for roles as data analysts, full-stack developers, or technical consultants. Graduates of any course are also in demand for technology adjacent roles as recruiters, marketers, or project managers who understand technical teams and products.

What does the course cost?

The course is offered at the heavily subsidised rate of £685.

Go to Code First Girls' new website to sign up. If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out to [email protected].

Code First Girls



Code First Girls

Code First: Girls

Code First Girls

At Code First: Girls we do believe one thing: tech shouldn't just be a boys club.

Code First: Girls is a multi-award winning social enterprise. We support young adult and working age women to develop further personal and professional skills. We run over 160 free coding courses per year all across the UK.

We're currently running our 2020 Campaign whose aim is to teach 20,000 young women how to code. We're halfway there now!
Last but not least, we help companies train their people, recruit new people, and develop their talent management policies and processes so they don’t miss out on amazing female tech talent.

Code First Girls

Code First: Girls

Code First Girls featured

Code First: Girls teaches 10,000 women to code for free in the UK


Code First Girls

Code First: Girls, the multi-award winning social enterprise working with women and companies to increase the proportion of women in tech, has announced that its taught 10,000 women to code in-person for free in the UK and Ireland, a new milestone for the tech sector.

In the 18 months since the launch of its 2020 campaign, an initiative aimed at teaching 20,000 young women how to code for free by the end of 2020, the organisation has made strong progress, with Code First: Girls now halfway to this target and on track to achieve its final goal.

Code First: Girls launched their 2020 campaign at the end of 2017 with a clear objective to significantly grow their existing free in-person coding course offer and set a target to teach 20,000 women to code by the end of 2020. As part of this campaign, and with the support of several corporate partners, they have now taught 10,000 women to code for free across 35 cities hosting 297 courses.

This record result comes at a time of stark underrepresentation for women in the UK’s technology sector. According to the UK Office of National Statistics, in 2018 women made up only 11.6 per cent of software professionals in the UK.

Allison Krill , head of EMEA global banking and markets technology at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said, “As a business committed to responsible growth, we recognise that it is essential we equip women with the tools and training they need in order to play an active role in building the digital economy."

"Our partnership with Code First Girls has flourished since it began in 2014 and it is excellent to see the progress that has been made since the launch of 2020 Campaign. We look forward to seeing more young women thrive and fulfil their potential.”

One year after announcing the partnership with Trainline, Clare Gilmartin, company CEO, said, “We’re incredibly proud to support Code First: Girls and it’s fantastic to see them reach this landmark achievement."

"The 20:20 initiative is an excellent example of how the industry and charity sector can pull together to create a more level playing field in tech."

"We understand first-hand the benefits a more diverse workforce can bring to any business and are excited to continue to help Code First: Girls achieve great things.”

Jean-Pierre Saad, Managing Director and Head of Technology for the CFG partner KKR added, “Code First: Girls is doing fantastic work in encouraging gender diversity in technology, and in particular helping young women achieve their ambitions and play a more important role in the digital economy."

"We believe their efforts will benefit the UK economy and society more broadly, and we are very pleased to be able to support them in their mission and in hitting their targets as part of the 20:20 campaign.”

Code First: Girls’ CEO Amali de Alwis was awarded an MBE award for services to women in technology at Buckingham Palace and is one of the leading voices on the topic in the UK. Prior to that, Amali was elected as the 2018 most influential women in UK tech and was also shortlisted in the top 10 most influential BAME tech leaders in the UK by the Financial Times.

Computer Programmer

Bank of America Merrill Lynch joins Code First: Girls 20:20 campaign


Computer Programmer

Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) has announced its joining Code First: Girls' campaign to help 20,000 women in the UK and Ireland code by 2020.

Over the past three years, Code First: Girls 20:20 Campaign has taught more than 5,000 women how to code for free, and their alumnae have been hired by a range of local and global firms, including ThoughtWorks, BlaBlaCar and NASA as software developers, information security experts, digital strategists and robotics engineers.

Through their involvement in the campaign, BofAML will provide financial support and their technologists will help train Code First: Girls students.

Training will also be rolled out to the bank’s own female employees who are interested in learning to code. This will open up other career opportunities for these women, and will enhance their understanding of the ways in which technology applies to their existing roles.

The UK's tech sector is one of the fastest-growing globally, with London accounting for around 80 per cent of all venture capital tech funding last year.

Despite this, there is a stark underrepresentation of women in the UK's technology sector. According to the Office of National Statistics' most recent figures, in 2017 only 3.9 per cent of tech and telco professionals in the UK were female programmers and software developers.

Through this campaign, BofAML is hoping to give even more young women the aspirations, skills and confidence to pursue a technology career, and create a strong female pipeline of female talent for business-critical positions.

Speaking about the partnership, Allison Krill, Head of EMEA Global Banking and Markets Technology at BofAML, said, "Technology innovation is key to driving transformation within business, but the need for diverse technical talent is not yet met by the number of qualified people entering the workforce."

"We are therefore very proud to be supporting Code First: Girls 20:20 campaign."

"Our employees look forward to working closely with the participants to share their knowledge, skills and advice to help bridge the gap for early career switchers into tech.”

Amali de Alwis, CEO of Code First: Girls added, "We are excited to build on our existing partnership with Bank of America Merrill Lynch."

"The lack of tangible role models for women looking to build a career in tech creates a psychological barrier to entry, and through this partnership, we are working hard to put an end to that."

"We look forward to working with them to both build and tap into a talent pool of incredible women looking to develop their careers in tech, as well as to help women understand what tech-oriented careers are available to them."

"Bank of America Merrill Lynch is an innovative company committed to diversity, and shares many common goals with our organisation."

"We are delighted to have them on board.”

Inspirational Woman: Alice Bentinck | Co-Founder of Entrepreneur First and Code First: Girls

Alice Bentinck ef 1Alice Bentinck is the Co-Founder of Entrepreneur First (EF) and Code First: Girls. Entrepreneur First supports Europe's best technical talent to build their own high-growth tech startups. The accelerator mainly takes talented individuals before they have a team or an idea, and spend six months with them to get them to the point where they can take on serious seed funding. CodeFirst: Girls is a UK not-for-profit which was born when the founders of Entrepreneur First notice a lack of girls applying for the accelerator. Alice is shortlisted for the Veuve Clicquot New Generation Award

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, I never planned my career, but I always like to have something to aim for. When I was younger I would write down ideas of what I wanted to do as a career, but as I was brought up in a very rural area the ideas are somewhat different to what I do now! Having nine goats growing up meant they were more focused around being a vet than a venture capitalist (VC).

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

I think anyone founding a company will face challenges. Bringing something new into the world is never easy. The biggest challenge for us when we started out was that our model was very much against the status quo. We wanted to build companies from scratch, working with individuals before they had a company. The status quo was that you only worked with teams who had set ideas. We had a lot of push back on this at the beginning from the eco system, but we found that our customers (the potential founders) were actively seeking ways to build their cofounding team and to evaluate ideas, but there were no easy ways for them to do this.

What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership position for the first time?

One of the things I have learnt is that leadership is a skill and as such, it is something that can be learnt and improved on over time. It's important that you develop your own authentic leadership style that works for you. Often this is an amalgamation of lots of different people's leadership styles. Before and when you move into a leadership position read as much as possible about leadership (especially autobiographies) and watch the leaders around you and learn from what they do. I really like The Power of Many by Meg Whitman and Suffragette by Emmeline Pankhurst. The latter isn't a business book, but can teach you a lot about leadership.

When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how would you decide who should have the role?

I've never had this problem! It's important with any candidate that you understand why they want to do the role, what they are expecting from it and how it fits into their wider career goals.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

The day starts with a quick check of my emails and slack (our internal messaging system). I then do a quick workout at home and then cycle to work. I used to try and cram in breakfast meetings at the beginning of the day, but this is usually when the day is quietest and I am at my most focused, so I'm trying to do more desk work at these times. There is no normal end of the day. I'm often at events, or we run a lot of events in our office too. I am a big fan of sleep though and try to make sure I get to bed at a good time.

What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations

Don't be afraid to talk about the work you have done and to be proud of it. Speak up and share your opinion.

How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?

Yes very much so. Both informally and formally. I recently got a professional coach and it has been transformative. Taking time to think about and invest in your personal development is important and having a professional coach gives this a rhythm.

Do you think networking is important and if so, what 3 tips would you give to a newbee networker

Your network is how you get stuff done and how you learn about new opportunities, so you need to invest in it. Think carefully about how you build your network, you need breadth as well as depth. So yes, a networking event might be useful, but only if you follow up with the people you meet afterwards and create a relationship with them. Networking sounds unpleasant and businessey - it's really just about getting to know people and keeping in touch.

What does the future hold for you?

I can't imagine doing anything other than running EF, so I'm in it for the long haul!