26 April 2018 Culture

Django Girls San Francisco, and supporting technology for everyone

By Michelle Carroll

Right before Elastic{ON} 2018 kicked off in February, Elastic held a Django Girls workshop in San Francisco. We brought together 45 attendees, 25 coaches, 10 volunteers, and 7 lightning talk speakers in the Collective Health space for a free introductory programming event. This was our second employee-organized workshop, supporting causes that are near and dear to our hearts at Elastic: broadening the perspectives in tech, introducing programming in a friendly, fun, and free way, and taking advantage of a rare opportunity to volunteer in the same room as globally distributed colleagues.

Django Girls: A Primer

For the uninitiated, Django Girls is a global non-profit organization dedicated to bringing underrepresented voices into technology, with a particular focus on women. They provide a robust introductory programming tutorial (using Python and Django to set up a personal blog site), a blueprint for setting up a workshop (helping to lay out timelines and keep track of pieces like opening applications or reaching out to potential sponsors), and the collective experience from a community of former and current organizers. Each workshop is put together by local, volunteer organizing teams. We had four organizers, who kicked off planning in the second half of 2017.

Putting on a workshop is a big undertaking, but the payoff is well worth it. While this is the big, Elastic-organized workshop of the year, we sponsor many Django Girls workshops around the world, and encourage employees to participate as coaches, volunteers, and organizers in their hometowns.

Django-Girls-Workshop.jpg


Bigger and Better 

One of the most striking notes from this year’s workshop was the growth from last year, both in size of the workshop and in what we were able to improve on with the experience of the first workshop back in March of 2017 under our belts. We doubled the size of the workshop, and were able to bring in some awesome folks to give lightning talks on topics ranging from imposter syndrome to the next steps to take after the tutorial or how they got started on their programming path. We’d like to give a huge thanks to Jaya Gopalakrishnan, Kelsey Karin Hawley, Meggie Mahnken, Bhavya Mandya, Anna Ossowski, Joel Burton, and Keri Kalmbach for sharing their knowledge.

Throughout the day, the workshop room was buzzing with excitement — attendees and coaches alike learned new skills, made new friends, and accomplished victories throughout the day. Folks attended the workshop for a wide variety of reasons that go beyond considering a career in programming. Many signed up to simply to learn something new, or better understand the perspectives of their coding coworkers. The coaches got the benefit of an excited audience, and a chance to talk about the parts of programming that they love. There were a lot of “a-ha!” moments sprinkled in with the conversations and laughter at the tables.

We count ourselves lucky to be able to live our values: helping introduce programming to underrepresented folks in tech, using our technical knowledge for good, and helping to demystify complex topics. Our thanks go out to:

  • The Django Girls organization (and their robust organizer documentation)
  • The generous volunteer policies at Elastic: every employee gets 5 paid days every calendar year to participate in volunteering activities of their choice.
  • Our event sponsors: Collective Health provided a beautiful space right in San Francisco, MissionU provided additional sponsorship for an end-of-the-workshop social celebration, Girl Geek and PyLadies SF provided community promotion and resources at the event.
  • The coaches, speakers, volunteers, and attendees for being the heart and soul of the workshop.

We recommend organizing, coaching, volunteering, attending, or supporting a Django Girls workshop in your area — it’s a great, fun way to improve the tech industry, and chat with new folks.To learn more, visit the Django Girls website.