Who do you think built this web page? Or, that app on your smart phone?
Odds are a man is behind the programming of both.
, a 29-year-old software developer who lives in Over-The-Rhine, launched a local chapter of Girl Develop It
, a series of classes to teach woman how to write computer code. The first four-week course starts July 12 at The Brandery
, 1411 Vine St. Total cost is $80. No previous experience is required.
Girl Develop It was started by two women programmers
two years ago in New York City. Since then, chapters have exploded across the United States offering basic to advanced code courses to women and underrepresented groups. Men are not turned away, but the teaching style is interactive, hands-on and specifically aimed at women and their learning styles, Kidwell says.
“This is a supportive environment where you can ask questions without being snickered at,’’ she says. “There is no such thing as a stupid or a silly question.”
The coding community nationally is about 90 percent male. The idea behind Girl Develop It is to close the gender gap in programming by providing a place where women can learn at their own pace, and ask “stupid questions,’’ while they learn how to write code in existing web applications to build web sites.
And even if a woman doesn’t want to develop software or build websites for a living, more and more employers are demanding some knowledge of web development. Learning the basics can help women in their existing careers or move up in their profession, Kidwell says.
“I’ve heard success stories in other cities where it has helped women get promotions,’’ she says. “There was a woman in Philadelphia who owned a catering business and she didn’t want to pay for a web site. She built it herself and tripled her business.”
Kidwell says starting a local chapter made sense because of the area’s thriving start-up community, local college and universities’ focus on informatics coupled with the fact that women from Cincinnati and Dayton were traveling to Columbus to take Girl Develop It classes there. Kidwell was also encouraged by one of the founders, who is a personal friend, to launch in Cincinnati. So she did three months ago.
She’s been shocked by the outpouring of support, offers to help and enrollment.
“Everyone has said: ‘How can we help?’ They’ve offered mentors and tutors. It’s been amazing,” she says.
The Brandery has donated the space for the classes, which can accommodate about 25 students. Local university professors, software developers and coders have offered to help.
The first classes will be taught by Heather Glenn Rock
, who is a software developer at Online Rewards. Teaching assistants will also be available to help students, and Kidwell hopes to host one or two Saturday sessions – which she has dubbed “coffee and coding” – as extra sessions for students who may want or need extra help.
Her first success, she says, is that 12 women have signed up. “I thought I’d get about 10 or so.”
The students are from various backgrounds, including a woman who blogs and wants to learn how to do more, a couple of women from nonprofit groups and a woman who works in Human Resources who wants to learn about coding to enhance her ability to hire IT professionals.
The course, which will first focus on HTML and CSS, assumes students have no technical background. There are no age requirements. Kidwell says the only real requirement is respect and, at this time, a laptop. In the future, Kidwell plans to apply for grants and/or seek sponsorships to be able to offer textbooks, manuals and maybe laptops for women who may not be able to afford them. She also plans to offer more advanced courses.
Mostly, she says, she hopes women will feel empowered to continue learn and do more.
“I’m not looking to build the next Instagram in Cincinnati,’’ she says. “There’s really nothing you can’t do; just a bunch of stuff you haven’t tried yet.”
What: Girl Develop It Cincinnati course in HTML and CSS
When: Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. July 12 – Aug. 2
Where: The Brandery, 1411 Vine St., second floor
Requirements: A laptop (PC or Mac)
Sign up: Enrollment and payment
is required before the first class.
By Chris Graves