Ever since the boost of the tech industry in the early 2000s, stories surrounding app developments, and the evolution of technology has been male dominated. Although the technology industry continues to be a white-cis-male dominated industry, there are women from a diversity of backgrounds and experiences who are working hard to ensure others have access to these spaces.
To explore this narrative, we begin this three-part series highlighting brilliant women who are developing apps, websites and turning ideas into screen realities with Kaitlyn Califf, a developer and marketing professional in Grand Rapids.
Califf, a woman of color, originally from Guatemala and raised in Muskegon, began her career as a developer after finishing a boot-camp course at Grand Circus C# Coding Bootcamp where she got to build a web application from scratch.
Califf believes it's not about what you know but who you know when navigating what she deems as an “unwelcoming environment.”
“For me, that means networking to meet those willing to mentor and guide you. If those in the industry are not open to creating this environment of inclusion, the industry will continue being a white-cis-male dominated industry,” shares Califf. The front-end developer stays in Grand Rapids because she sees the budding growth and opportunities here.
“I have been on the front line of this change and see great potential,” says Califf.
As the Project Coordinator for Vias Latino Market Consultants
, Califf spends her days coding in HTML, CSS, and ASP.NET, and advocating to ensure other women and women of color have access to the tech industry. She does this by continuing to collaborate with Grand Circus and by serving as the Marketing Co-Chair for BL²END
whose mission is to foster an environment of growth and belonging for young professionals of color in Grand Rapids. The young professional uses her skills towards the efforts of diversity and inclusion through non-profit organization and hopes her visibility encourages other girls to want to follow in on her foot-steps.
“It is all about creating an open environment where women and their talents are valued. Girls will not chose a career with more roadblocks than opportunities,” says Califf.
Michelle Jokisch Polo is Rapid Growth's On The Ground Editor. To connect with Michelle, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.