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UVU Partners With Tech-Moms to Help Moms Find Careers in the Tech Industry | News @ UVU | News @ UVU

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Jennifer D’Haenens was married and divorced before the age of 20. She worked multiple
jobs as a single mom taking care of two boys until they both set off to college. Now,
remarried and with a four-year-old boy, Jennifer recalled the words her 18-year-old
son Aiden said to her.

“It’s your turn now, mom.”

Moms like Jennifer are “taking their turn” by returning to the workforce in an industry
that needs workers: the Utah tech industry. Helping them in their journeys is Tech-Moms,
a nonprofit organization designed to help moms transition into technology careers
and find more successful employment.

Utah Valley University (UVU) has partnered with Tech-Moms to provide childcare, facilities,
and support for the Tech-Moms Orem cohort.

Director of Community Education R.J. Willing called UVU’s partnership with Tech-Moms
a “no-brainer.”

“Our mission is to inspire a culture of lifelong learning,” Willing said. “Tech-Moms
does exactly that. They help to educate and inspire women who are interested in pursuing
a career in technology. As these women learn the ins and outs of the tech sector from
Tech-Moms, an entire industry is demystified, and opportunities open up that weren’t
there before.”

Classes are held in the UVU Clarke Building on Saturdays and include technical training
in coding curricula (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript). Each student will have built a personal
website by the end of the 10-week program.

“A lot of us are looking for better-paying jobs,” D’Haenens said. “When you’re a single
mom or in the field without a degree, you’re just getting the bottom-of-the-barrel
jobs; simple call center, simple receptions. Learning the skills here increases our
marketability in the workplace.”

Yet learning to code doesn’t come easy, as evidenced by a CSS lecture on Sept. 24.

“I’m so dumb and bad at this,” a student sitting near the front said during class.

Immediately, a chorus of classmates sounded, detracting the tech-mom from the self-deprecation
to provide support and encouragement.

“It’s a really supportive environment, and it’s really easy to ask questions,” student
Berlyn Pierce said.

Just as D’Haenens brings her child, Pierce brings her five-year-old daughter to the
UVU Wee Care Center while she receives her Tech-Moms training.

“I’m super thankful,” Pierce said. “When I joined Tech-Moms, they told me that they
would attempt to remove every single barrier that would get in the way of me coming,
and that would have been a problem. I would be asking a neighbor or a friend for ten
weeks: ‘Can you watch her for six hours plus drive time?’ But now, I don’t have to.”

Trina Limpert, Tech-Moms founding member and UVU Women’s Success Center advisory board
member, said she helped start Tech-Moms to answer two problems: employee shortages
in the tech field and underemployment among women.

“Utah’s most underutilized resource is women,” Limpert said. There is a disconnect
that’s happening in [employers]. One of the biggest issues is that they say they’re
not there, but their systems are set up to exclude women, such as having policies
in place that say you can’t have a gap in your career or you’ll be automatically excluded.”

Limpert said Tech-Moms uses its influence to help take the blinders off some tech
industry employers.

“We’ll have women apply [to companies] and tell us that they can’t even get in the
door,” Limpert said. “I’ll pick up a phone, and I’ll call the CEO sometimes and ask
why our women can’t get through their systems. ‘What’s going on?’ I’ll ask.”

“We are very high touch,” Limpert added. “We are connecting in multiple ways and scaling
teams and our community to help solve these sorts of issues.”

The UVU Women’s Success Center (WSC) has contributed to UVU’s partnership with the
Tech-Moms Orem cohort by advertising to community members and providing Wee Care Center
child care services on Saturdays.

Women’s Success Center Senior Director Rachel Lund said that Tech-Moms and WSC share
similar goals.

“The mission of the Women’s Success Center is to help women graduate and retain at
a higher rate so they can be successful in their lives,” Lund said. “And that’s the
mission of Tech-Moms — to help women who have not had other opportunities to get the
skills that they need in the workforce. It just aligns so well.”


Learn more about the Tech-Moms program.

Learn more about the UVU Women’s Success Center.

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