Mark Hedlund, Etsy’s VP of Engineering, launched "Etsy Hacker Grants" to provide needs-based scholarships to talented women engineers enrolling in Hacker School (a three-month hands-on course designed to teach people how to become better engineers). A number of studies, like one from CMU, have shown that people perform better in math and sciences if fifty percent of the participants are women, so gender distribution was a key metric in future Hacker School classes.
Etsy ran this program in the Summer and Fall of 2012 and watched the number of applications skyrocket each time. And in the summer of 2012, women ended up making up over half of the Hacker School class! For Etsy, the process was objectively worth the investment. If you figure that there’s normally a $20,000 placement fee, Etsy was able to hire eight candidates. You do the math.
Between this and the world of Udacity and MOOCs, I wonder how many tech companies will end up running their own schools as a way of hiring engineers. If funding classes is cheaper and more effective than traditional candidate searches, I wonder if other industries could use this too. It doesn’t sound like this Etsy Hacker School needed to automate grading to work, either, which gets brought up as the limiting factor for what subjects can be offered by online mega-courses.
How great would it be if profitable companies found it worthwhile to subsidize anti-oppression crash courses or indigenous community skill shares as a way of hiring staff? Not a rhetorical question! Would it be great?