It has been a year.
Like most organizations (and people!), the pandemic positioned us for self-reflection. As we watched events unfold around us, it became clear that a pivot for GDI was not just a temporary solution during shutdown; a pivot was a necessity for the organization’s future. We understood that the way GDI progressed after March 2020 was critical to the way the organization evolved with inclusivity, acceptance, and equitable representation.
Our first step was simple: serve our community now. While the rest of the world hesitated to see how things would shake out, we saw this pause in people’s lives, careers, and futures as a vital moment where action and change was needed. We saw the pandemic taking a massive toll on the employment stability of women and non-binary adults; and we had the tools to address those needs.
From March 2020 to March 2021, with members of our community out of work, considering career changes, or finally ready to take the leap for more, we saw our chance to meet them there with classes, support, and connection.
Over the past year, we offered 101 classes and included over 4,000 individuals in our classes, events, and cohorts - all online.
With this momentum, our board set to work crafting a new pathway forward for GDI. But this second step was more complicated.
This work was grounded in a reflection of where GDI has been, but also a desire to reimagine our future. To capitalize on our commitment to reaching students when and where they need us, while simultaneously expanding our offerings and serving a more diverse community, we needed to shift our model.
We evaluated the data from participants, listened to students and instructors, and had hard conversations. Ultimately, the decision was clear: moving forward, GDI will offer all classes, events, and other programming virtually. We will not be returning to the chapter model of the past decade, but instead will focus our efforts on building vibrant communities with diverse and impactful class offerings.
We heard that freedom to participate freely in our virtual programs, without geographic, transportation, or childcare barriers, has been life-changing for our community.
We know that virtual is the right move for our community to improve accessibility and inclusivity for our students. With virtual learning, students have told us they take more classes and advance with less barriers. They’re exploring new interests and discovering new skills. Virtual classes provide a safer, less-intimidating environment that is more accessible. But we also recognize that to address our ultimate task of closing the gender gap in technology, we have to develop an outreach strategy that goes further to champion women and non-binary adults.
This is our third step: to invest in community collaborations and partner with organizations that serve women and non-binary adults so that we can offer our classes in new, safe spaces. We cannot do this with our current chapter model; instead, we need to get outside the box and bring our mission to the women and non-binary adults who need it where they already connect, work, and learn. This change brings GDI classes to the safe, welcoming environments where these individuals already learn, rather than forcing students to join a new group to advance their opportunities.
This is a big - but crucial - task. We are committed to doing it right, because people’s lives are changed by these opportunities. We know GDI’s path has been mired by setbacks in the past, but we want to listen, learn, and evolve this vision with you. We want you to be a big part of this change. Please let me know your thoughts, questions, ideas, and concerns. Together with the board, I thank you for your trust and support and I look forward to hearing from you.