Girl Develop It Toledo offers bargain tech classesWritten by Jordan Finney | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Google recently published a diversity report that revealed 30 percent of its employees are women. The company said that number is “miles from where we want to be,” and began offering vouchers for free coding lessons to any female interested in learning.
Google’s national initiative to close the gender gap in technology has already begun on a local level with the recently launched Girl Develop It Toledo.
Toledo is one of more than 30 locations for its parent organization, Girl Develop It. The international nonprofit aims to provide affordable and accessible programs to women who want to learn software development.
Lindsey Danforth and Angel Thomas, Girl Develop It Toledo co-founders, said the group’s emphasis on one-on-one mentorship and hands-on instruction sets it apart from other educational programs.
“Anyone can come — you don’t have to know anything about coding,” Thomas said. “It’s basically instructor-led exercise programs where we explain a concept then walk through the process of doing it. We want to give women in our community an opportunity to learn … and the best way to learn is a very hands-on approach.”
In addition, Girl Develop It Toledo provides a comfortable classroom environment where women of all coding skill levels can learn and ask as many questions as they want. Cost for each class varies from free to $50.
“I never felt encouraged to ask questions in school. It wasn’t so much the instructors but I felt awkward being usually the only female in my class,” Thomas said. “Girl Develop It classes are very inclusive. You can learn at your own pace and there are no stupid questions here.”
Class topics range from website building and customization to HTML and CSS for beginners. Interested women should go to meetup.com and search for Girl Develop It Toledo, where they can RSVP for upcoming events, find other “nerdettes” on Facebook and sign up for the Girl Develop It Toledo email list.
“Right now is a good time to be a woman and get into programming — companies like Google are looking for you,” Danforth said. “We want to bring more women into the tech world because there’s a lot of jobs out there for people who learn even a little bit of programming. We can help build the economy and reduce disparity between men and women.”
Girl Develop It Toledo classes have an average attendance of about four students, but could accommodate about 20. Regular attendees said they hope to see a dramatic increase in turnout by the end of the year.
“Just come! Come to the intro classes because they give you such a good foundation. You may not come out as an expert but you’ll learn a lot,” said Julie Woods, who has attended about a dozen Girl Develop It classes. “It’s really learning a new language, almost like Spanish or French. It’s really just another form of art. Some people draw or play a musical instrument. I create a website.”
All classes are held at Seed Coworking, 25 S. St. Clair St.
The Girl Develop It community also meets outside of the classroom on a monthly basis. “Code and Coffee” is an opportunity for women to network, get programming advice and talk about their tech projects.
“We just want to get the word out about coding,” Danforth said. “We’re trying to make it less nerdy. That’s the whole goal: To learn, have fun and find a way to show that coding is actually cool.”