Looking to join a supportive community just for women? Elpha might be the perfect place for you.
If you’re a woman working in tech (or looking to make the jump into the field), you may have heard of Elpha. Co-founded by three women – Cadran Cowansage, Abadesi Osunsade and Kuan Luo – Elpha is a social and professional network where women in tech talk candidly online.
According to a Bloomberg article from 2019, the idea for Elpha came to Cowansage when she was working as a software engineer at Y Combinator, a startup accelerator. In 2017, she began investing her nights and weekends into building an online community for women in tech, which she first dubbed “Leap.” In a Medium article from 2020 titled “Creating a Safe Space for Women in Tech —The Story of Elpha,” Cowansage explains her reasoning for wanting to create this new community from scratch:
“I believe as an engineer that a product should be built by women and intentionally for women from the ground up… The other platforms were all built by men and that diffused into the culture. I wanted the culture from the very first day to be defined by women, and I couldn’t find such a place online. So I built one.”
Fast forward to today and Elpha has since grown to encompass over 35,000 women. In this bustling online community, users form connections, offer advice and share their personal experiences as women in the technology field. Since the platform is showing no signs of slowing down, we’re taking the time to delve into Elpha and share what you should know about this online community for women in tech.
While the platform does offer a list of guidelines that members must adhere to (the standard policy of treating other members with respect, no self-promotion, etc.), no topic is technically considered “off-limits” on the platform.
Plenty of workplace topics that may be considered “taboo” or just uncomfortable to talk about around work colleagues are normalized on Elpha. Whether you’re seeking guidance on your next career move or wanting to rant about your workplace’s toxic environment, all of your thoughts and questions are welcomed – and encouraged – on Elpha.
Elpha offers numerous “communities'' on its platforms that you can choose to engage in. These communities span a wide variety of personal and professional topics including:
...And that’s just to name a few!
In my short time exploring the platform, I read dozens of posts by empowered, career-driven women – and even more women commented on those posts offering advice, empathy or just support. Topics seemed to cover a wide range from casual life “hacks” to professional career advice.
In the “Career Growth” community, one user shared her fascinating career trajectory from being a waitress to a CTO in nine years.
In the “Money” community, another member penned a lengthy post titled “What I wish I knew about personal finance at the beginning of my career” breaking down topics like payroll tax limits, employer-sponsored retirement accounts and health savings accounts.
In a separate community, users shared their responses to the poll question: “What’s the strangest thing you did during a virtual meeting?”.
In addition to Elpha’s community forums and posts, Elpha also offers several resources available to help members forge new connections, advance their careers and explore potential job opportunities. Below we break down some particularly noteworthy resources Elpha provides:
Elpha offers a curated job board on its platform and members can filter the jobs based on criteria such as percentage of women in leadership, team size, benefits, sectors, departments and more. So, if you’re looking for a job, it’s pretty easy to peruse through Elpha’s job listings and apply to one of the dozens of available jobs. Elpha also lets you fill out a short “About You” form that will allow the Elpha Hiring Team to keep an eye out for positions that could be a fit for your background.
Another interesting and helpful resource benefiting the Elpha community is the Member Directories. These allow Elpha members to discover and connect with other women based on their specific needs or interests. Elpha currently offers the following Member Directories:
Elpha also hosts weekly curated matches and monthly virtual chats (members are notified about these every month). With weekly curated matches, you simply fill out a short questionnaire answering some questions about yourself, your interest and what you hope to get out of the conversation. You’ll also select what time slots work best for your schedule in the next week. From there, Elpha handles all the logistics in sending out an email introduction to both participants, suggesting some conversation starters and providing a link to the video chat. This seems like a great way for members to meet new people, explore other fields and broaden their personal and professional networks.
According to Elpha’s Resources page, the section seeks to provide “practical advice on exploring different career paths, launching a startup, finding a job, navigating challenges in the workplace, and much more.” The Resources tab offers some great articles for members focusing on some widely misunderstood topics including tips for sharing compensation expectations and how to prepare for a software engineering interview.
You may be pleasantly surprised to hear that joining Elpha is entirely free. Joining the platform is pretty quick and easy. First, start off by going to the Elpha website and signing up using your email or through LinkedIn. You’ll be asked to input some fairly basic information about yourself including your full name, company, job position and years of experience.
You will also select your reasons for wanting to join Elpha, whether that’s hoping to meet other career-driven women, wanting advice on a particular topic, seeking a new role or something else. Elpha also asks all applicants to include a link to their LinkedIn or other professional profile. A member of the Elpha team will use this to verify your identity, which usually happens within 24 hours. If everything checks out, congrats; you’ll be the newest addition to the Elpha community!
The Elpha website advertises some short catchphrases that members have used to describe the platform. One member summed up the platform well when they said Elpha is “where driven, inspiring women gather to build their careers.”
Throughout my short time exploring Elpha, I came away impressed by the platform and inspired by the supportive, engaging community of professional women who actively seek ways to uplift other women in the tech space. Navigating a career in tech can be challenging at times – especially for women who often face added obstacles and roadblocks in a heavily male-dominated industry. But Elpha is working to fill this need, and the result is a vibrant online community where many of its members have found solace in supporting and empowering one another.
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