Teaching Ruby on the weekend – Rails Girls get busy in Berlin

Screen shot 2012-04-16 at 16.32.52
Screen shot 2012-04-16 at 16.32.52

Rails Girls Berlin gathered a group of 100 enthusiastic people at Travis CI and Betahaus on the 13-14. April, with the intent of getting women interested in technology to gain a first experience in programming using Ruby on Rails. Here, one of the organisers, Henrietta, explains why women are taking over techtown on their own terms.

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Founded in 2010 in Helsinki by @KarriSaarinen and @LindaLiukas, Rails Girls makes technology easier to approach for beginners. Often, the first leap can be the hardest and Rails Girls brings helpful coaches and others from the same level of experience together, resulting in an inspiring non-frightening atmosphere.

The attendees in Berlin ranged from women who had their first encounter with developers on the day to a few co-founders of Berlin tech companies and the @BerlinGeekettes (of course).

We were fortunate enough to have really inspiring coaches – seven-month pregnant @kilaulena tells all attendees at the workshop how awesome it is to be a developer – you can work and travel anywhere, take care of your own finances and have babies when you want. She’s also is meeting next week with ten attendees for a further Hack Day.

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Ruby on Rails – the workshops and agenda

During the workshop day, the Rails Girls went through what’s involved in building a web application in small groups with one or more coach. We also had a UX Design crash course by @karrisaarinen, tryruby.org examples with the charming @joshkalderimis, and a bentobox excercice to clear acronyms and cut-out jargon with @lindaliukas.

In addition there were insightful talks such as “get.init and Get in it” by @joanwolk, “agile practises at work” by @starkcoffee, “security & webapps” by @astera. Unlike a lot of workshops there was also time left throughout the day to ask questions and get face time with the coaches – the internet may be full of answers but for a first timer, it’s a lot easier to have a competent first-hand guide.

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Gaining the confidence to dive into dev

Rails Girls is a first-experience workshop, we encourage all attendees (and others) to practice their skills on various helpful online schools, and also push them to dive into the dev/tech community at any given meetup. It doesn’t matter if next week it’s a Javascript meetup or dev teatime – Berlin is so full of these meetups – what’s important is that we want to see women walk in confident, ready to learn more and network.

Some attendees also started the own Twitter channel for Rails Girls Berlin tips and news- @railsgirls_bln and I’m sure they’ll come up with meetups and hack days of their own, now that they are familiar to some of the dev community too! RG is going to hit some other cities next and most probably, we’ll be back in Berlin before you know it.

The Berlin spirit prevails

From the organizers viewpoint, the community in Berlin has been an immense help to us- welcoming us with open arms. Coaches and sponsors approaches us and many help spread the word – it was especially great was to see the activeness and eagarness to help of the @BerlinGeekettes.

We had a complete overflow of applicants and unfortunately we had to turn more than a hundred down – but I would also see that as a positive sign: there are more than hundreds of girls and women in Berlin willing to learn how to code. Amazing.