Last year Django Girls held their first website development coding workshop in Kansas City. It went so well, they held another one this year. I asked organizer and mentor Ashley Sullins to provide a recap of Django Girls Kansas City – sounds like it was another great event! Read on to find out how these women learned to make a blog website using Django, and how rubber ducks and dogs fit into the weekend!
What is Django Girls?
Django Girls is a weekend-long workshop created to introduce women to basic programming concepts. The tutorial covers how to make a blog website using a Python-based framework called Django. Django Girls workshops take place all over the world. In Kansas City, we hosted our 2017 workshop July 21st and 22nd at the Sprint Accelerator in downtown KC.
The goal of the workshop is to get more women inspired to work in the tech industry by taking the intimidation factor out of programming. Instead of coding alone in a dark basement, Django Girls brings together women with no programming experience and professional software developers to debug those cryptic error messages that often occur while learning how to code.
The Road to Django Girls Kansas City
The organizing team began planning the workshop back in February. Between the beginning of March and the end of May, we received 180 applications from women all over the midwest of varying ages and abilities with a desire to learn how to program. After spending hours combing through applications one Sunday afternoon, we were able to accept 113 women into the 2017 program. We were also able to find 40 software developers willing to give up their Friday night and Saturday to help the attendees with troubleshooting issues that might occur during the workshop.
Friday – Install Party!
After confirming attendees, vendors, coaches, volunteers and one epic Costco run, it was finally time for the Friday night install party! Attendees walked into the Accelerator around 6pm and picked up a Django Girls KC mug with a name tag that noted their table number.
The goal of the install party was to get all of the tools needed to start developing a Django project installed on their computers so they could get to programming first thing Saturday morning. The install party was a success – the attendees set up their first development environments while enjoying some delicious Waldo Pizza.
Saturday – Workshop Day
The next day, everyone was ready to go and get their coding on! We started the morning with a breakfast buffet of assorted bakery goods and juices.
After breakfast, the lead organizer of Django Girls KC, Sara Heins, gave an opening presentation with helpful tips for learning how to program, including the rubber duck debugging trick. Two attendees from last year’s session, Julie Stark and Muriel Green, spoke about their experience as a Django Girl and one of the sponsors, Matthew McDonald of Equipment Share, told the group why investing in women’s technical education was important to him. Matthew said that he had interviewed over 200 developers for positions at his organization, but only 3 of the interviewees had been female. Women are more than 1.5% of the population, so why are they only 1.5% of his interviewees? With programs like Django Girls, hopefully that statistic will be changing in the future.
After the opening presentation, it was time to get down to business! Attendees worked through the Django Girls tutorial at their own pace. There was retro pop music and fun breaks to keep the atmosphere upbeat.
Attendees and coaches had the option to participate in a 20 minute relaxation yoga session by instructor Sam Megraw before lunch. The yoga participants raved about how much they enjoyed the session in the Django Girls Slack channel, a chat room specifically for attendees and mentors to keep in touch both during and after the event.
In the afternoon, foster dogs from the Rescue Project came by the building to provide a much needed mental break for everyone.
Before long, it was nearing 5pm and time to wrap up the day. Attendees celebrated the successes of the day by playing board games and socializing at Pawn & Pint, a nearby board game shop. Afterwards, coaches were rewarded for their hard work with dinner and drinks at Think Big’s event space, sponsored by RevSys.
Want to get involved?
Ashley Sullins is a Django Girls KC 2017 organizer and web developer at Big 6 Media.