"Women and coding." Isn’t that a sentence that is usually followed by a huge wave of comments?
Just to be clear, we want to hedge ourselves from being misinterpreted. This article is not going to encourage neither sexism NOR feminism in any way; it is intended to be purely informative and help make the world a better place.
Even though it is often thought that the world of IT, programming, web design and web development in general is dominated by male programmers, web designers and web developers, there is a trend in the past few years of women starting to enter (and rule) this community.
Even though we are trying to live in a world free of prejudice, when this issue is being mentioned, vivid discussion often arises. For example, in an interview for the Smashing Magazine, 16 women web designers share their experience in the area and encourage young women who are at the doorstep of entering the community, or even encouraging them to endure the pressure and negative comments they meet on a day-to-day-basis.
So, if you are a woman trying to enter the industry, but are not sure where to start, here are five places on the web where you can first click and then attend a free workshop (if available in your town).
The first coding website we are going to present you is Codecademy. Even though it was not made for women exclusively, it turned out to be used as a basic platform and resource for many a coding workshop (including Rails Girls). It operates on the principle of modern education, which uses an everyday home environment rather than a 19th century classroom-based approach. In essence, this means that the digital natives, i.e. people who were born in the era of digital technology development (starting from the 1990s onward) and have developed a different way of learning and comprehension of the world can now learn from wherever they feel appropriate and productive. This website offers the following comprehensive courses:
- Make a Website
- Make an Interactive Website
- Learn Rails
- Learn AngularJS
- Ruby on Rails: Authentication
- Learn the Command Line
- Learn SWL
- Learn Java
- Learn Git
Rails Girls is an organization which started off as a local project from Finland, and then spread massively around the globe. Rails Girls is unique primarily because it was made to approach the world of technology to women, who felt as outsiders in this area. It introduces the platform Ruby on Rails and teaches women how to do basic programming, sketching and prototyping.
The organization is run by a group of enthusiasts and volunteers who share their knowledge with the world.
Upcoming events include Kyoto, Taipei, Dublin, Sao Paulo, Brno, London, Novi Sad, Rio de Janeiro, etc. but you are free to check out their website and ask for them to come to your town as well.
Another non-profit organization which sets up programming workshops for women is Django Girls. Similarly to Ruby on Rails, Django is an open-source web application framework (which did not get its name after Tarantino’s movie, but after the guitarist Django Reinhardt) written in Python, a programming language.
Django Girls was started in Berlin by two Polish girls who wanted to increase the diversity in the Django community by bringing more women to the world of technology. It offers free resources and Django tutorial, which can be used by all people, no matter the sex, age or race.
The following events are going to be organized in Valencia, Doha, Dnipropetrovsk, Budapest, Kampala, Hobart, Bordeaux, Cologne, Inland Empire, Warsaw, Rome, and many other cities and towns around the globe.
If you still have not heard of MOOCs, i.e. massive open online courses, you better pay attention to the following paragraphs. Coursera was launched in 2012 and was intended to offer free online courses to all people, no matter the distance from their teachers. Even though it is not intended for certain groups of people, it can be attended by women.
The course we are interested is Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python), which happens to start today (so make sure to sign up if you are interested!) and ends in January. After you complete the 5-stage course, you will be able to design and create your own applications. And what is best about this is that it is free, even though there is the option of paying for a verified certificate by the University of Michigan, which organizes the course.
Similarly to Coursera, Stanford University’s online learning platform Udacity is a MOOC which offers the chance to all people who are willing to learn. Their Introduction to Computer Science course is free for the first two weeks of enrollment, but if you want to get their official, verified certification, you will have to invest some money in it. However, what they offer completely free are course materials (you will have to sign up to get them, though).
And finally, we kept the best for the end. General Assembly’s Dash offers five projects which include building a personal website, a responsive blog theme, a small business website, a CSS robot, and a Madlibs game, completely free of charge. Here, you will learn the basics of HTML, CSS, and other useful programming languages, which combined together form beautiful websites
As you can see, there is a plethora of places where women can get introduced to programming and share their coding experience. If you have any other useful place to add, feel free to share them with us and the world in the comments section below.