Widgets Magazine

Stanford-launched nonprofit she++ opens London chapter

she++, a Stanford-launched nonprofit organization that works to increase diversity in the technology industry, opened its first international chapter in London this fall.

The chapter, she++ London, officially launched at University College London in October with plans to work alongside its Stanford counterpart to empower women and minorities in the field of technology. In both the United States and the United Kingdom, women make up about a quarter of the tech industry’s workforce.

“It’s terrifying that a woman couldn’t pursue something she’s interested in because of the culture of the industry,” said Katherine Ann Van Kirk ’19, co-director of she++.

she++, founded at Stanford in 2012 and run entirely by Stanford students, already had international reach before opening up the London chapter. The organization’s Ambassadors Program provides resources and mentorship for college students interested in fostering accessibility in tech spaces worldwide. Ambassadors typically work for a single academic year; this is the first time the group has expanded to include a permanent chapter outside of Stanford.

“The idea is that the London chapter will be self-sustaining,” Van Kirk said. “We at Stanford will provide guidance to the London chapter, but ultimately we want them to be their own operating entity.”

she++ decided to launch the new chapter after noticing the success of events hosted by an ambassador at University College London. Encouraged by the events’ high attendance and strong branding, the organization made the move to a permanent chapter in London. Van Kirk emphasized the success of the she++ brand as a top priority.

“We want to make sure that our brand is consistently well-represented,” Van Kirk said. “We think it makes more sense to work with people that we already have relationships with that we trust to disperse our name.”

According to Van Kirk, she++ hopes to continue expanding in the future, potentially by launching chapters with its other successful ambassadors around the world. The group currently has ambassadors in Ireland, South Africa, Australia and India, as well as universities around the United States.

“We want to establish chapters in places where we have strong ambassadors with a great vision for she++,” Van Kirk said.

she++ London has big plans moving forward. The chapter plans to host a hack day called she++ Codes London at the end of November, where it will welcome college students from groups underrepresented in the field of technology from around the United Kingdom for a day of programming projects and workshops. The event will expand on an event hosted by a London ambassador last year.

Leaders of the London chapter will also join she++ in Silicon Valley this spring for a three-day summit, where they’ll participate in workshops and meet leaders in the tech industry.

While the new chapter pursues its own successes, she++ continues to grow here at Stanford. This year, its high school program has over 500 participants, as many as the number of participants from the previous three years combined.

“We’re really expanding,” Van Kirk said. “We want to have an even bigger presence and make a bigger impact.”

Contact Zoe Sayler at zoeneile ‘at’ stanford.edu.