Meeting and coaching a diverse group of fantastic women at the Django Girls event in our Mountain View office on March 5 was a truly enriching experience for me as a coach. Thirteen Elastic coaches from around the world came to work with nearly two dozen attendees. The atmosphere was very welcoming, and everyone was exceptionally motivated and eager to learn.
Prior to this event, I had an opportunity to give a group talk about the Elastic Stack to another set of diverse Django Girls - Delhi participants via pre-recorded video conference. It was very well received and boosted my confidence to get involved more in this organization. Since Elastic was hosting this time, I was all the more excited. For me, the most rewarding moments were when the Django Girls' faces lit up in excitement with each success. It's a feeling programmers are very familiar with: the moment something you've never done before in code starts working and your enthusiasm spikes. Getting to watch those "aha!" moments was the only reward the coaches needed!
This one-day workshop was organized by our awesome developer relations team, Michelle Carroll and Elyssa Emrich, and a member of our fantastic events marketing team, Luisa Antonio. They took care of the innumerable tasks required to ensure a successful event. They processed participant applications, recruited sponsors and mentors, set up a pre-event installation party to meet and greet the participants, and made sure there was food, drink, and swag aplenty to keep everyone energized during the workshop. Kudos to Michelle, Elyssa, and Luisa — your seamless organization skills deserve an entire blog post!
Django Girls workshops are designed to give women an amazing first coding experience and inspire them to fall in love with programming. Of course there are many men who would benefit from the very same tutorials, and everyone is welcome, but Django Girls is primarily about encouraging more women to build the skills needed to pursue technical roles. The percentage of women in computer-science-related fields is regretfully small, and that can be intimidating for women who want to start coding. The Django Girls project is dedicated to changing that.
The workshop tutorial enables aspiring female programmers to build their first web application and develop skills in Python, Django, HTML, and CSS. Attendees work in small groups and are coached by professionals who work with these technologies on a regular basis. For this event, the coaches met their teams via video conference for a pre-workshop "installation party" to get everyone set up with the tools they needed for the big day. The installation party helped both the coaches and the attendees to get to know each other personally. The rapport was already built, and both parties knew what to expect. It made breakfast more celebratory, because we could greet each other by name and recognized familiar, friendly faces.
Despite the huge amount of information that the participants were introduced to, they all made fantastic progress. They built a simple blog application and deployed it as a web app on PythonAnywhere. The buzz in the room was brilliant, and by the end of the day, everyone had a serious sense of accomplishment — the coaches couldn't have been more proud of their teams!
The women who participated in the workshop had a wide variety of experiences and professional backgrounds. We had two mother-daughter duos in the group — what better place than a Django Girls workshop to introduce your daughter to programming for the first time! Other participants included lab technicians, technical writers, students, and women interested in making a career change.
Throughout the day, the coaches gave a variety of inspiring lightning talks. They shared insightful views and personal stories about many topics. Talks ranged from how the coaches got involved in their careers in the tech industry to primers on topics like technology convergence or automation and messages on motivation, perseverance, and imposter syndrome.
One of the strongest themes of the Django Girls workshops is that programming can be fun and accessible. We believe programming is not just for a select group of super-nerdy males. We hope that we were able to deliver this message to the participants and that they feel empowered to take up new technical challenges and do great things.