Meet Ally Watson OAM, Founder of Code Like A Girl

Ally Watson is a software engineer who has spent years working as a solo developer and is recognized for her work promoting diversity and opportunities for women in tech, her dedication to education and women’s training and advocacy for the promotion of coding and software development. among women.

In 2015, she created her company called Code like a girl – inspired by her passion for educating and training women in coding and software development. Ally wanted to close the gender gap within the tech industry and build a future where women didn’t feel like strangers in Australia’s STEM industries. Code Like A Girl started as a way for Ally to meet other women who code.

After moving to Australia from Scotland, Ally wanted to form strong bonds and female friendships. So she decided to host her own event, one specifically for women in tech. She had no idea that one event would turn into many and become the humble beginnings of Code Like A Girl.

Ally Watson received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) early this year on Australia Day.

“Working on gender equality can feel like a relentless marathon, many people tell you it can’t be done in your lifetime,” Ally said after receiving the OAM.

“It takes a rare optimism to keep pushing as hard as we do at Code Like a Girl and times like this matter. When the country you call home, sees you and recognizes your work. It’s a great motivation to keep moving forward, knowing how much there is still to do.

We spoke with Ally about her accomplishments this year and her inspiring career journey:

Congratulations on your OAM nomination. What does this mean to you ?

What’s important to me is what it might mean for others. As a girl who grew up in a social housing estate in a small town in Scotland, I am undeniably proud of how far we have come. I know the journey I have made will inspire others. My ambition has always been to lead conversations about gender equity in technology and positively influence other gender minorities to enter the field of coding. I know that becoming an OAM recipient will only further this ambition and it fills me with great gratitude.

Ally Watson OAM

How has Code Like A Girl evolved since you founded it and how can people get involved?

My mantra has always been “fall in love with the problem, not the solution” and so we have evolved over the years. With every initiative and every project, you learn something new about what is possible and what works. We are always striving to find a solution that is scalable, sustainable, and most importantly, that creates the change we want to see – a gender-balanced tech workforce that represents the wealth of our society.

Today, that’s exactly what we do. We work with over 50 businesses in Australia to support all gender minorities (women/trans/non-binary women etc.) who are immediately looking to transition into tech roles but may face barriers such as no coding skills or lack of formal qualifications.

We connect our community with paid software engineer internships and for those who need more skills, we support them through our industry-led online coding courses and tutorials that help them get there.

Recognition Matters focuses on messages such as “you can’t be what you can’t see”. What does this statement mean to you?

Research tells us that girls are more likely to express their identity using adjectives, rather than verbs that boys tend to use. What it tells me is that the girls, they want BE someone, not only DO something when they grow up.

Why do female role models in STEM make a difference?

The importance of real models cannot be underestimated. Just look at the “Scully Effect,” a phenomenon that saw the fictional FBI agent inspire a surge in female STEM enrollments while the show aired.

Ally Watson codes like a girl
Ally Watson OAM

Who have been some of your mentors and how have they helped shape your career?

As a founder and first-time manager, it’s been a steep learning curve. I have endless gratitude for the countless people who have championed my vision and leadership from the start.

One such person being Andrew Ritchie, founder of Estimate One. What started as a simple LinkedIn post in 2017 is now one of my most trusted advisors.

Every major pivot or irreversible decision I make, I like to bounce off Ritchie. Although he runs one of Australia’s largest technology platforms for construction procurement, he always makes time and space available for our sessions.

An incredible and genuine ally for gender equality, I knew right away that I had met someone aligned in values ​​and passionate about what I was trying to achieve. As a founder himself, he also understood the emotional cost of running a business and still not only provides business advice and guidance, but has also been an anchor for my mental well-being.

My advice for finding a good mentor is that they not only need to have your “vision”, but it is important that they have you too.

To learn more about Code Like A Girl, visit

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