Women Who Code Manila: Yes, girls can code
MANILA, Philippines - More representation for women in the tech scene is what Women Who Code (WWCode), an international non-profit, aims to bring to the Philippines with its launch in the country.
WWCode wants to inspire women to excel in technology careers and to promote diversity in the tech industry. The non-profit organization has its main branch in San Francisco, California, with members of over 80,000 in 20 more countries.
The Manila branch, which was launched on Friday, January 20, is led by Michie Ang and Anj Cerbolles, who only got to know each other after being introduced by officers of Women Who Code when they individually submitted a request to bring the organization in the Philippines.
With the goal of encouraging women to participate in the tech industry, the first ever meetup was attended by women coming from different fields, from engineering to education to nursing.
Scarcity of women
One of the most common scenes during tech events, such as hackathons, is the scarcity of women, according to Cerbolles.
“That time I was just starting to learn about programming. There is a qualifying round and I was the only woman who qualified. There were about 40 participants,” a web developer, who joined a local hackathon 3 years ago, said.
Among the reasons why few women participate in these kinds of events is “they feel intimidated,” according to another attendee.
With Women Who Code Manila, women will be encouraged to show that they too can do what men can.
“It’s a good thing that women are empowered in the Philippines compared to other countries. But we just have to change the culture in perceiving that engineering is a profession for men. Being able to build things should be for everyone. It’s not a man’s field,” Ang said.
“If a woman wants to build a house, create robots, create solutions to problems that exist in this world, she should have the rights and confidence to do it. There shouldn’t be any stigma attached to the concept of women becoming engineers or even becoming leaders, that women can’t do it, or we are too soft, or women are not born leaders,” Ang added.
Knowledge-sharing, community building
One of the key activities of Women Who Code Manila is sharing expertise and knowledge with women who are interested in various fields in the tech industry.
“We’re trying to share our expertise with beginners [in coding and programming]. It’s exciting to know that earlier, those in the tech scene who have different specialties, they are willing to help and teach other women,” Ang said.
“We dont need to be super rich [to be able to attend tech events]. For example some women here want to be there but they couldn’t. How much? So why not just bring it here and let everybody experience it,” Ang added.
Women Who Code Manila will conduct study groups all throughout the year. With volunteers having their own specializations and expertise, the groups will be divided into different topics, and those who want to participate can choose which track they want to focus on.
"Women Who Code technical study groups are events where women can come together and help each other learn and understand a specific programming language, technology, or anything related to coding or engineering," Ang said.
Study groups for the following topics will start by February:
- Intro to HTML and CSS
- Ruby on Rails
- Android (Java)
- Game dev
And in the coming months:
- iOS study groups
- Raspberry Pi study groups
By the end of the year, Women Who Code Manila aims to organize an all-women hackathon.
“There are a lot of women who are great engineers and we just have to make them visible to the public so that we can inspire the younger generation to choose a field based on their passion and not because of their gender,” Ang said.
Two years ago, a similar initiative was launched by 12-year-old Isabel Sieh through the Girls Will Code, a community of young girls interested in coding. It encourages schools to teach their students basic programming language or make it an after-school activity. – Rappler.com
For those who want to volunteer or join Women Who Code Manila, you can visit this page.
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