United Women of Tech is a site that connects women in tech around the world. It’s a global map with pins (similar to Google Maps markers) indicating the geolocation and contact information for women tech groups. The founder, Veni Kunche, says her goal for this project was to help women find communities around the world where they can learn to code, connect and find mentors with other women in technology. It’s like the United Nations for women in tech!
Kunche is not only the founder of United Women of Tech, Code with Veni, and Code Better Together, but she also works with the Web Informatics and Mapping group at the US Geological Survey as a Sr. Software Developer.
Here’s our conversation (edited to fit this post):
JV: Where did the idea for United Women of Tech come from?
VK: I attended a Women Who Code meetup in D.C. about 2 years ago. I was blown away by the support that this community was providing to women who were just getting started in their journey in tech. I wish I had such support when I started my career as a software developer in 2003. I would have learned earlier in my career how to better negotiate my salary and how to strategically ask for raises. The Women Who Code D.C. group inspired me to create this map. I think women in tech should be able to support each other wherever they are.
JV: What’s next for United Women of Tech?
VK: After attending many tech meetups around D.C., I’ve noticed that they tend to be male dominated. Jobs that are shared in these communities may never reach the women in tech communities. That’s why for the next phase of United Women of Tech, I’d like to connect these amazing women in tech communities to the employers who need them but don’t know how to find them.
JV: Why D.C.? Is it a welcoming or easier city for tech startups compared to other cities?
VK: We moved from Minnesota to D.C. to raise our future children in a more diverse cultural and economic environment. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the tech community here. There are hundreds of meetups and energetic and motivated people. The women in tech communities are especially amazing. There are over a dozen communities- such as Women Who Code, Hear Me Code and many more – that help women get into tech. These communities are definitely welcoming. They inspired me to start United Women of Tech.
JV: How important are grants or local government programs for start-ups?
VK: Grants for start-ups are incredibly important. I am in the early stages of my startup and as you get started, it is great to have grants for education. You need to do a lot of learning on your own. If you know the business side, you may need to learn the tech side. Since I know the tech side, I needed to learn things on the business side such as marketing.
JV: How does a President-elect Trump administration impact the tech startup businesses in D.C.? What’s the chatter among D.C. Tech entrepreneurs?
VK: With only 10% of the popular vote in DC going to President-elect Trump, many of us in and around DC were not expecting this result. The chatter I have heard is that there is a lot of uncertainty of what’s going to happen. This may reduce the availability of funding, which might restrict growth and shift entrepreneurs elsewhere. Or with civic tech gaining a lot of attention after the election, investors around DC may focus their energies on social and civic startups. D.C., with its political influence and diverse community, is uniquely positioned to welcome and support those startups. The election results may generate some great ideas and businesses.