Women Coding with ‘Rails Girls’ Galway

‘Rails Girls’, a worldwide series of workshops that aims to bridge the gender divide in technology by giving a first approach to web application development, was recently held in DERI, NUIG, Galway.
This approach is facilitated by the Ruby on Rails framework, so that it can be grasped easily even by those with no prior programming experience.

135 women between 12-50 years old from across Ireland applied to attend the ‘Rail Girls Galway’ workshop (http://railsgirls.com/galway) which was opened by Councilor Frank Fahy, Deputy Mayor of Galway City.
Mayor Fahy stressed out the importance of such an initiative for the Ireland workforce. An introduction to web application development was given by Gerry Kavanagh (Master Engineer at LM Ericsson),
while an overview on programming with Ruby and Ruby on Rails was presented by Stefania Farrugia (Software Developer at Fintrax) and Emily Castles (Web Developer at Red Hills Software and co-organizer of Rails Girls Dublin) explained and assigned the BentoBox exercise.

The lightning talks started with a witness on the IT job career through the personal experience of Ana Maria Valarezo (Senior Account Manager at Zend Technologies). Then, Yuwei Lin (lecturer at Salford University and Debian Women program member) showed the possibilities, fascination and issues of working in the open source community. Alanna Kelly (mobile game application developer and founder of the Galway Game Jam) witnessed her life experience as a mobile game developer and Matteo Collina (PhD student at University of Bologna, visiting DERI) envisioned the Internet of Things realization and presented his prototype for remote monitoring his own apartment in Italy.

At the end of the Rails Girls Galway workshop, every participant had designed and implemented a web application able to enter attendees information, edit and delete them, visualize their addresses on a Google Map and upload their pictures.
Several thankful emails were received by both the organizer and the awesome volunteer coaches, who managed to successfully explain any doubt to the participants.

Myriam Leggieri, PhD student with DERI at NUI Galway, said: “Women tend to hold back and the reasons that keep women from entering the IT are numerous. Mainly the same stereotype that depicts boys playing with cars and girls playing with dolls, applies in Computer Science. Only the 25% of Information and Technology (IT) jobs are held by women; in only 11% of the Fortune 500 companies there are women executives and only 5% of tech start-ups are owned by women.”
“At the same time, research shows that groups with greater diversity solve problems better and faster than homogeneous groups; they are more efficient and more experimental. Also women have demonstrated to positively influence growth and efficiency: women-operated, venture-backed companies have 12% higher revenues than the average and women entrepreneurs begin with about 1/8 of the funding of male-owned ventures. Consequently, the IT gender gap seems to deserve attention”, continued Myriam.

Dr John Breslin, NUI Galway Lecturer and Director of boards.ie and StreamGlider Inc., provided funding for the event through the company he founded, Technology Voice, which he introduced at the workshop. Further funding was provided by NUI Galway’s DERI and its Outreach Program, via Brendan Smith, Intercom and CISCO.
Brendan Smith is also the founder and curator of the Irish National Computer and Communications Museum, hosted in DERI and kindly offered as a venue for the workshop lunch.

The next Rails Girls workshops in both Galway and Dublin are already being planned, to accommodate all the applications that had to be rejected this time, because of a lack of space.

Photo courtesy of Arindam Halder.

Home page photo courtesy of Lukasz Porwol.

To know more about the Rails Girls Galway workshop:

Rails Girls Galway Participants and Coaches