A Kansas City organization is working to update your mental picture that software programmers are guys hunched over a keyboard in a dark room speedily typing code.
The change? Replace the man in the picture with a woman. Well, and the dark room — that’s not the most healthy environment for any programmer.
“I wish there was a magic wand to wave and create experience female developers overnight, but there’s not.”
– Jennifer Wadella
With the local demand for developers far outpacing the supply, Kansas City Women in Tech has partnered with Django Girls to offer a free, three-day workshop this summer that will teach women the basics of web programming and the Django web framework.
Django is a set of open-source web development tools that helps programmers take web applications from drawing board to launch quickly.
The workshop, which takes place June 24 to 26, seeks to fill the workforce gap while increasing diversity in the male-dominated tech world, KCWiT founder Jennifer Wadella said.
“I hear from tech employers all the time that they want to diversify their teams, and I have to tell them that there just aren’t that many women out there to hire,” Wadella said. “I wish there was a magic wand to wave and create experience female developers overnight, but there’s not. I think giving women a starting point through workshops like Django Girls … is how we’ll eventually be able to grow the talent pool in the ways our tech scene needs.”
She added that other ongoing programs like Coding & Cocktails, along with an expanding network of mentors, has helped achieve progress on those goals. It seems to be working, because the City of Fountains recently was named the No. 2 city in the nation for women in tech due primarily to the area’s equal pay grade for women and men in the industry and the high-number of local tech jobs — 33.6 percent — that women hold.
Django Girls is a nonprofit that helps organize and teach the Python and Django web frameworks to women around the world. The organization partners with local women to create a supportive, judgement-free learning environment, said Sara Heins, a Django Girls coach who will be running the Kansas City workshop.
“Programming has a stigma that comes along with it,” Heins said. “Django Girls breaks down that stereotype. The program shows that learning how to code is more about problem solving and critical thinking, and less about whether or not you’ve been building computers since you were 10.”
Heins hopes that the workshop will introduce women to a field they may not have considered before and give them a set of tools both professionally and personally.
“I hope participants can take away a new approach to problems,” she said. “The program won’t turn you into a full-fledged developer overnight, but it will give you the tools to learn how to tackle the problems you’ll face in programming — and other aspects of your life — with a fresh perspective. Django girls will give you a good starting place to begin your journey through web development and the confidence needed to continue learning a challenging craft.”
Women can find out more about and register for the free workshop here.