Houston software developer helps bring Women Who Code to town
Silver Ehiwario worked to attain two chemical engineering degrees and had been in the industry in Nigeria for seven years when she decided she wanted to change her career path.
"I started thinking about making a switch when I found out I had this interest in being creative and building solutions for businesses so that they can become more effective and grow," Ehiwario says. "I like to be able to put my thoughts into the computer and see people use it."
She's not alone. Ehiwario and a few like-minded women are responsible for bringing the California-based nonprofit organization, Women Who Code, to Houston. On March 5, the Houston chapter celebrated its launch. At the event, the organization engaged its new members and asked them what they wanted from the organization. The feedback they received will drive the programing and events they will focus on, Ehiwario says.
"At the end of the day, I called for anyone open to mentoring. We had a whole lot of turnout — people were ready to inspire other women with what they do best," Ehiwario says. "I don't think there is a whole lot of other groups out there where your interest is represented and worked on."
Ehiwario spoke with InnovationMap about what she's excited about for Women Who Code in Houston and how she managed to change careers from a chemical engineer to a software developer.
InnovationMap: Did you find it easy to find resources for starting a new career in coding?
Silver Ehiwario: It wasn't easy — maybe I didn't know what I wanted. I searched online for something I could actually do where I wanted to do it. I decided to try the University of Texas' bootcamp here in Houston. It was very hard at first. I was very new to coding. I never used the computer other than for emails and basic work.
IM: How did you first get involved with Women Who Code?
SE: I had a colleague in the bootcamp who introduced me to it. I found out more online and it kind of aligned with what I wanted and I liked the idea of having support. In 2017, I applied to be a director so that we could have a network here. Everything started happening here at the end of 2018.
IM: Who is a part of the Houston chapter?
SE: There are seven of us. Julie Jonak, Roopa Rajala, Shefali Kapoor-Patel, Wanjun Zhang, Aditi Singh, Saima Rajwani, and myself.
IM: What's the program like?
SE: What draws me to Women Who Code is the mission and the vision. The mission is to inspire women to excel in their technology careers, and the vision is to have a world where women are representative of technical executives, founders, chairmen, and software engineer. We have people old and young. Our code of conduct has to do with inclusiveness — if you love technology, you're welcomed.
IM: Why is it important to Houston that Women Who Code have a chapter here?
SE: Houston is a huge community. I know there's a lot of tech people out here. We are able to see a lot of people are changing their careers from what they have done before — just like I changed mine. We need communities where they can be inspired. I've met people who just finished a coding bootcamp, are job hunting, and are kind of depressed. This community will be able to inspire them.
We need Women Who Code in Houston to support these women in tech — to close the gender gap and create a good working environment. If women succeed, girls will see that and it will give them that encouragement and motivation.
IM: How does someone get involved?
SE: Online. Sign up to be a member, join our Facebook network, and our LinkedIn network. We'll soon roll out our schedule of when we meet.
IM: Advice for someone wanting to switch careers?
SE: I like talking about this a lot. If you want to change your career to something in the tech industry, I would just say to take it one step at a time. Find one of the bootcamps out there and get connected. And join a network like Women Who Code so you can have a network and support after you leave that bootcamp.
Portions of this interview have been edited.