IWD 23 - how JPMorgan Chase and HelloFresh are working to get more young women into the tech sector

Cath Everett Profile picture for user catheverett March 8, 2023
To mark International Women’s Day, we explore the initiatives of two organizations, JPMorgan Chase and HelloFresh, to try and get more young women into tech.


Although nearly three-quarters of young women believe working in tech to be a prestigious career, only 25% say they would be either likely or very likely to join the profession themselves, according to research.

The survey conducted among 1,000 UK females aged between 16 and 27 by Kantar Group on behalf of meal kit provider HelloFresh indicated that good job prospects (63%) were the top reason for the sector’s appeal. Great benefits and perks (50%) and the potential to have a positive impact on society (29%) were also key draws. 

But despite this, a mere 6% of those questioned said they were keen to pursue a tech career, less than half the number of their male counterparts (14%). The biggest barrier was the perception that the industry was still too male-dominated (77%). Other stumbling blocks included a belief they did not have the right skills (55%) and also that they did not know enough about the sector (32%).

On the other hand, just over half (51%) of respondents indicated that access to training and scholarships would encourage them to enter the industry. Seeing more women in leadership roles (49%) as well as more role models (45%) in general would also help.

Making a career switch to tech easier

As a result, to try and address the situation and ensure its own tech team more closely reflects its customer demographics, HelloFresh has run a ‘Women in Tech’ internship program over the last two years. Annie Meininghaus, the company’s Senior Vice President of Product, who also leads its gender equality team, explains:

We have a diverse global customer base and want to make sure our teams can relate to our end-users and understand how to build an offer they love. Having a wide range of experiences and viewpoints within the business also means we can take more creative approaches to problem-solving.

As a result, candidates for front-end engineering and data analyst roles, which are in particular demand, are sourced from among participants in Ironhack’s and Le Wagon’s technical bootcamps. Three were accepted onto the company’s six-month-long scheme in 2021 and six in 2022, with successful interns being offered a permanent job at the end. 

Held at the company’s headquarters in Berlin, the program matches the interns and their interests with tech projects taking place within the business. Each participant is given training and assigned a mentor. They also receive E10,000 on top of their wage to support their educational and living costs and relocation expenses. 

As to why the firm favours bootcamp candidates, Meininghaus points out that not only do they have “strong technical foundations” and “practical skills”, but their backgrounds also tend to be more diverse:

We know there’s plenty of talent out there and that we need representation from all backgrounds to build the best possible team. Unfortunately, many women feel there’s a lack of information about how to switch into a tech career and they don’t see enough female role models who’ve done it. Our initiatives help to address that by providing mentoring, experience and an understanding of what a tech career encompasses.

Preparing young women for a career in tech

Another company that is keen to attract more diverse talent to its tech team is multinational bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co. To this end, it sponsors and runs a two-week-long, experiential program called ‘Work Prep’ with Girls Who Code, an NGO that provides coding skills training for young women.

The focus of the US-based online scheme is to provide women and non-binary people, who are in their first year of college or university, with ways to engage with the company before they move into their “internship years”, as Julia Backon, the organization’s  Head of Youth Programs for Tech for Social Good and Emerging Talent, puts it. She explains:

We’re not just a financial services company but also a tech company. A lot of people don’t realise that technology is at the forefront of everything we do. Everything is driven by technology - $10 trillion is processed daily and that couldn’t happen without tech. We also employ 57,000 technologists [out of a total workforce of 270,000] in 22 global tech centers. So Work Prep helps us educate people about that and showcase just how tech-driven we are to a diverse group of women. It’s also about looking for ways to provide next steps to code alumni in the longer-term.

To provide participants with helpful input at the technical skills level, workshops are provided in areas, such as ‘empathy in coding’ and design thinking to encourage a more human-centred approach. They also undertake a coding challenge based around encryption using Python and a Build-A-Thon to design apps that help address social challenges. 

On the soft skills side, meanwhile, participants are given career coaching, which includes learning interview skills and gaining tips on how to optimize their resume. Insight is also provided into what career options exist at the bank and what different jobs there look like.

Broadening the pipeline beyond the usual talent pool

Likewise on offer is the chance to meet some of the bank’s female technology leaders, which enables participants to hear about their experiences, ask questions and learn by example. The overall time commitment per week is roughly 10 hours of curriculum-based work, with additional activities undertaken in peer groups. 

The scheme, which was first introduced in 2021, has involved two cohorts so far, the last one of which comprised 54 students majoring in computer science or engineering from 46 colleges and universities. A huge four out of five were from historically underrepresented groups and the majority subsequently went on to apply for permanent jobs at the bank. Backon says:

It definitely ties into our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. The demographics of the students are very underrepresented in tech, but it’s a great way to get awesome facetime with young women and educate them on what tech looks like at the firm. There are also internship opportunities over following summers and it’s a good opportunity to showcase our tech for social good programs.

So Work Prep gives the students a clear idea of who we are and what our culture looks like. It also helps us broaden our pipeline and look beyond the usual immediate solutions as we’re going for a longer-term play. The more diverse individuals we can bring in, the better it is for the business. There’s more innovation due to diversity of thought but we also want out employees to represent the community we serve as a bank, and targeting underrepresented groups helps us achieve that.

Another key benefit is the engagement it generates among existing female staff. As Backon points out:

Our employees love collaborating with Girls Who Code and working on the programs outside of their day-to-day jobs. It gives them purpose at work. In fact, we had 40 volunteers who gave 200 hours last year, so it’s a big employee engagement thing too.

My take

While it may take time and resources to encourage underrepresented groups to join your business, the benefits can clearly be significant and are definitely worth the effort, particularly in the midst of an ongoing skills shortage – despite massive redundancies in the tech sector.


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