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For women in tech, mentoring matters

Published April 24, 2019

Ten Forward staff doing an impression of "Women laughing alone with salad."

Ten Forward's team is 70 percent women, which means we're all too familiar with the obstacles women in tech often face. When it comes to creating environments where women can thrive, there are a number of different factors, but a big one is access to mentors.

According to a 2017 survey of women in tech worldwide, the biggest barriers respondents cited were a lack of female mentors (48 percent) and a lack of female role models in the industry (42 percent). 

So here at Ten Forward, we build in mentoring from the ground-up, starting with our interns and apprentices, and we encourage staff to engage in external mentoring, as well. 

Below are some fantastic local programs we've been involved with that we wanted to highlight as great opportunities for mentoring within the Madison community. 

YWeb Career Academy

Ten Forward has partnered with the YWCA Madison's web development bootcamp, YWeb Career Academy, for more than four years. YWeb trains women and people of color to become web developers, teaching them basic front-end skills over the course of three months.

We've sponsored six interns from six different cohorts (ultimately hiring on four as full-time employees), and multiple Ten Forward team members have volunteered as weekly tutors and mentors, in addition to one-off talks and panel discussions with students. 

There are so many different ways to contribute to YWeb's mission, and it's true that you get so much more than you give. We're grateful for the awesome team members we've discovered through the program, and for the lasting relationships we've built with students, instructors and others. 

YWeb is always looking for tutors, mentors and internship sponsors, so don't hesitate to contact them if you're interested in learning more!

Building Brave

Madison nonprofit Building Brave focuses on empowering women nationwide through their mobile mentoring app; Ten Forward crew members both give and receive mentoring via that app. 

With groups (or "circles") focused on different broad categories like effective communication, women of color, and women in STEM, the app provides a safe space for women around the nation to ask questions and view resources from expert mentors (including the option to post anonymously). 

Especially for those in tech, Building Brave provides crucial access to support and advice from a wide variety of successful women.


DevTogether Madison is a new meetup focused on pairing, bringing more experienced developers together with less experienced developers to learn from each other.

Several Ten Forward staff have attended DevTogether events (both as mentees and mentors), and through MadRailers, we're hosting an event with them in June. 

Pairing is a great way to connect with someone new while also improving technical skills, and the structured nature of DevTogether events can be a real lifesaver for more introverted mentors or mentees.


Founded in Madison and Milwaukee, Gener8tor is a nationally ranked accelerator that invests in high-growth startups. Ten Forward developer Hilary Stohs-Krause was asked to participate in the current Madison cohort's "mentor swarm," a sort of mentor speed dating designed to introduce the program's participants to a variety of different perspectives. 

As many of Ten Forward's clients are startups, it was a natural fit, and we'd love to participate again in the future.

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