Surprisingly, Alaina Percival, CEO of Women Who Code, did not begin her professional career in the tech industry. Her career actually began in the footwear industry when she worked at Puma running their niche products division. After deciding how important education was to her, she decided to go back to school to earn her MBA at Georgia State University. Then, she worked as a corporate brand manager at a smaller women’s performance shoe company, but later decided that she wanted to live in San Francisco, the major hub of the tech industry.

“It was a struggle because I’d always worked with footwear, but I felt like I needed to switch gears and start over and find my path.”

Taking a risk and changing your career path like Percival did is not easy, and people like her need to be acknowledged more for their bravery and commitment to success in a new field. She started getting involved in the tech industry by joining Women Who Code when it was still in its early phases and she placed herself in positions of leadership after teaching herself how to code. She found that her experience in community development allowed her to successfully organize events and find sponsors, and quickly became passionate about the projects she worked on.

At her day job, she mentions, “I was working with a lot of engineering executives, but fewer than 5 percent of them were women. I saw the experiences and opportunities they had and started bringing those into Women Who Code’s programs. That is where Women Who Code’s mission of inspiring women to excel in their careers was formed and how I knew we could make a difference.”


Percival did not waste any time and within a few months had filed for non-profit status and a trademark. Once she realized how big this organization was becoming, she quit her day job and made Women Who Code the center of her attention.

“The most exciting part is that the Women Who Code leaders whom we are helping empower are women who are dedicated to seeing other women excel. Their influence will impact the industry exponentially,” Percival says.

Percival mentions that she is proud of the influence her organization has had on inspiring women to enter the tech industry, however women are not staying in the industry for long periods of time. She adds that women need to have more mentors in the field so they can develop a sense of belonging and get career planning advise. The goal is not to simply get more women in the tech industry, but to have them stay and become future leaders that are equally represented.

Percival advises everyone to learn at least the basics of coding because it is becoming an integral part of every business. Having these skills will be essential for seeing numbers grow in the amount of women in tech because experience is crucial in the industry.

“Lay out that goal and work toward it; you can always change your mind later,” she says. This is a great piece of advise for young women who are still unsure what they want to do for a career. Percival is a prime example of someone who was not exactly sure what she wanted to do at first, but she made a decision and went for it with hard work, passion, and dedication.

Now, Women Who Code has more than 50,000 members in over 20 countries and has offered over 3,000 free events around the world. The non-profit offers free study groups and career development events, but also provides free and discounted conference tickets and scholarships to its members, totaling $100,000 in 2015.

Percival acknowledged a problem in the tech industry and found a way to help diminish that problem while impacting several lives along the way. She hopes that one day Women Who Code will no longer exist because that means there will be no disparity between men and women in tech and women will be equally represented, especially in positions of leadership.


For more information, visit these articles:

Alaina Percival: Twitter | LinkedIn

Women Who Code: Website | Twitter | Instagram