The internet was built by and for boys. As a girl, one feels like lacking the vocabulary to access it. Building software services and applications is now cheaper, faster and easier than before yet women’s visions are underrepresented.
It is no secret that most of the software personnel in companies are predominantly men. If there are to be more women who pursue careers in technology and feel welcome in these fields, we have to work on ways to increase the number of women studying technology.
This is where the recently held Rails Girls event held in Kampala over the weekend comes into play.
Rails Girls is a non-profit international community of volunteers who organize weekend long events whose aim is to give tools and a community for women to understand technology and build their ideas. It’s intent is to open up technology and make it more approachable for girls and women.
The very first Rails Girls event was held in Kampala last weekend, organized by Outbox (www.outbox.co.ug), a local technology innovation hub supported by Google that provides support for people to turn their tech ideas into sustainable businesses, under their initiative Girl Geek Kampala that seeks to create a community that promotes and celebrates women in the technology field by infusing entrepreneurship and programming skills into girls passionate about IT. It was sponsored by Thoughtworks Uganda, a global IT Consultancy that delivers custom applications and no nonsense consulting.
Some of the Rails Girls participants with their coaches at Outbox
The free event brought together over 50 girls to learn and experience programming using Ruby on rails, a tool used to build web applications and software services.
They were taught how to install the Ruby on rails web application framework on their personal laptops on Friday, and later on Saturday, they were introduced to the basics of Ruby on rails and worked with close to 15 coaches from Thoughtworks all day in order to get an understanding on how to use the platform.
Participants were divided into small teams and given instructions on how to create a simple web app (how to create a layout, add pictures and other fun stuff)
Many of the participants were very motivated and bright, showing up on time for the workshop and staying until the end.
I believe with the presence of initiatives like Girl Geek Kampala under Outbox, working together with software consultancy firms will go a long way in building capacity among women and encouraging them to take up careers in technology.