MotherCoders

Participants in the MotherCoders course meet at Weber State University's Community Education Center in September.

Many attribute the fact that Utah women on average make 70 cents for every dollar earned by men, compared with the national 80 cents per dollar, to an emphasis on domesticity in the state. A national program that made its launch in Ogden this month is out to prove that motherhood and a career are not mutually exclusive.

RizeNext and Weber State University teamed up to bring MotherCoders, a nonprofit that works to start moms on the path to a job in the technology field, to the Junction City.

“Our demographics are shifting in the state, and so many women in the state are working,” said Robbyn Scribner, the director of community and corporate programs for RizeNext. RizeNext is an organization that works to give opportunities to women in the workforce.

Scribner added, “This is part of a bigger picture of women finding new opportunities to work successfully in the state of Utah.”

Efigenia Neofitos is one of the moms who signed up for the program. After four years of being a stay-at-home mom, she started a job in the spring of this year at Overstock.com, where she worked as a customer service representative taking calls while working on a computer.

“I recently went back into the workfield and realized that technology and the knowledge of technology is so much deeper than just emails, and i wanted to know how to work with it and how to make it part of my life,” Neofitos said.

Neofitos recently quit the job at Overstock.com because she became overwhelmed. Now, she’s looking for something more long-term.

“I want a career,” she said. “I’m not a stay-at-home mom. I love my kids and I love my home, but I want a career.”

Because she became a mom at a young age, Neofitos said she never pursued a college education. She thought participating in MotherCoders would be a good start to jumping into a new field.

According to Brian Rague, an associate dean in the College of Engineering, Applied Science & Technology at Weber State, Neofitos is exactly the kind of person that the university was hoping would sign up for the program. The university is working to play a role in diversifying the STEM field — according to the Utah Department of Workforce services, only 19% of the people in computer, engineering and science jobs are women.

“It makes sense to draw from a population, like mothers, that’s trying to reenter the workforce — those are the type of people we want to jumpstart their careers and get involved in the field,” Rague said.

Participants in MotherCoders will learn through online and in-person coding exercises, classroom workshops and lectures, according to a press release from Weber State. They meet in a classroom at the university’s Community Education Center.

The tuition fee, which is typically $1,450, was reduced to $200 through CARES Act subsidies and funding from local corporations. Because the program currently depends entirely on volunteers, however, the price may have to be raised in the future, Scribner said.

The current session — which started Sept. 26 and goes until Nov. 21 — is already filled, but the program will run annually in spring and fall.

“It was intimidating to be a mom at one point in time, and you feel like you’re supposed to know everything ... but there’s still so much to learn,” Neofitos said. “To come to a community where they’re in the same boat as you, it’s awesome.”

Contact reporter Emily Anderson at eanderson@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @emilyreanderson.

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