Emmy Yardley, a Start-Up Chile participant from generation 9.1, is passionate about bringing more female tech leaders into the world. During her time here in Santiago, she led the organization of the first Rails Girls event ever to be held in Chile. She describes the experience- and its incredible outcome- below.
May 16, 2014 – Santiago, Chile — It’s 6:30pm on a Friday evening after work. The streets are buzzing with people racing to their first bar of the evening, and I am here at the Groupon Latinoamérica office. There are a few enthusiastic women milling about. Rails Girls Santiago doesn’t start for another 30 minutes, but the excitement in the room is palpable.
Tonight is the start of what promises to be a great weekend. We’re expecting 50 women to arrive within the next 2.5 hours to take their first steps into the world of computer programming. We have 12 seasoned programmers on hand to act as personal coaches who will guide the women through installing the Rails framework on their laptops. Tomorrow, the real work begins. We’ll spend the entire day together on Saturday, from 9 in the morning until 6 in the evening, when the women will program their first web application. By the end of the day, they’ll be celebrating their first coding project.
What’s this all about? This weekend, May 16-17, we’re hosting Chile’s first Rails Girls event.
Rails Girls is an international organization offering free weekend workshops for women to learn the Ruby on Rails development framework. Our goals are to give women the tools they need to understand the internet, provide a great first experience coding, and teach them to create their own web applications. The workshop was started in Helsinki in 2010 as a one-time event, but the need for this sort of programming is so strong that Rails Girls has now become an international event series, hosted by local chapters around the world.
The Rails Girls curriculum is aimed at complete beginners: women who have zero prior experience writing computer code. The only thing we require is an interest to learn and a laptop to use during the workshop. These weekend events are entirely free to participants thanks to our very generous sponsors and a host of volunteer organizers, coaches, and speakers.
The response to this first Rails Girls workshop in Santiago has been incredible. With no advertising at all, just a Twitter feed and word-of-mouth, we attracted over 120 applicants. We had planned on accepting 30 participants, but because of the overwhelming response we crunched the numbers- and begged our sponsors- and made space for as many as we could.
Seeing fifty eager participants from all different backgrounds getting ready to program their first web application- and knowing that there is so much more interest out there for this sort of event- is exhilarating. These are women who otherwise would not have had this opportunity. The lack of women in the technology community is too stark. We need to do more to encourage this type of learning and make events like this available to more people. We can do more.
I am so proud to say that I organized this event with help from Alex Soble and Paul Kwiatkowski (fellow Start-Up Chile participants), and local entrepreneurs Diego Arias and Gonzalo Sanchez from En1Mes. We had outstanding support from Alejandra Vial, Paula Alvarez, and Guido Barosio, and generous financial assistance from our primary sponsor, Groupon Latinoamérica.
We are so excited about the opportunity to create more female programmers in Chile. If you share our vision to bring free coding workshops to the girls and women of Santiago, or- and especially- if you’re interested in helping us with this mission by sponsoring a future Rails Girls event or helping us in any way, please get in touch: hola-at-railsgirlschile-dot-com and follow us @railsgirlschile.
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