Guest Blog: Django Girls

We recently hosted Django Girls - an introductory programming workshop over two days covering the basics of Django. Becky Smith who worked so hard in organising the class wrote us a roundup to talk a bit more about it:

I first heard about Django Girls at the Europython conference in Berlin in June this year.  The very very first Django Girls workshop ran on the first day of Europython, and attendees received a pass to the rest of the conference.  You might be surprised to find that people attending a beginners’ workshop would enjoy a programming conference, but in fact most stayed, participated, and had clearly been inspired by the workshop.

I started to think this would be an amazing thing to do back home.  I tentatively suggested the possibility of a November workshop in Edinburgh, and contacted CodeBase about a possible venue and some potential sponsors...which resulted in enthusiastic responses and suddenly the vague possibility was a firm commitment and the start of some intense planning!  

3 months later, and we welcomed 37 women with little or no programming experience and 15 coaches to CodeBase to learn about web programming with Python and Django.  Friday 29th November was the install event where coaches helped our attendees get set up with everything they’d need for the workshop.  On Saturday our learners worked through the Django Girls tutorial with their coaches and learned about python, django, html, css and deploying a web app on Heroku.  Despite the huge amount of information that attendees were introduced to, they all made fantastic progress.  People who didn’t know where to find the terminal on their laptops on Friday evening were confidently using it to commit their code to git and push to heroku by the end of the day on Saturday! The buzz in the room was brilliant and by the end of the day pretty much everyone was tired but hopefully as proud of themselves as their coaches were.

So what makes Django Girls different and such a great experience for new programmers? Well, firstly, it’s aimed at women.  That’s not to say that there aren’t men who would benefit from a beginners’ workshop, but it’s a sad fact that women find it much more intimidating to get started.  We heard from several participants during the day that they were particularly drawn to this workshop because they knew they would not be in a minority.  With well over 100 applications, there clearly isn’t a lack of interest among women.  Secondly, particpants worked in small groups with their coach, so they could work at their own pace, and didn’t feel pressured to keep up with everyone else.  And finally, we care about the experience, not just about the teaching material (although the Django Girls tutorial is cited as the “best current tutorial for Django that you can get for free”  

This was my favourite tweet of the day, from one of our coaches; it was a privilege to help people experience that amazing eureka moment when it works!

This was my favourite tweet of the day, from one of our coaches; it was a privilege to help people experience that amazing eureka moment when it works!

Thank you so much to the people who made it all possible…CodeBase of course for hosting us, our sponsors the Python Software Foundation, the Django Software Foundation, Hogarth and Github, our coaches who gave up their Saturday (and their Saturday morning lie-in!)  and of course all our participants for their energy and enthusiasm.

By Becky Smith