On May 30-31st, for the first time ever, Bucharest was the host of the international Rails Girls event, that we were happy to support as a main sponsor. Rails Girls Bucharest was a 2-day free workshop exclusively dedicated to women who are new to software engineering, but keen on learning Ruby on Rails. The event, organized by Girls Who Code Romania, was held simultaneously in Bucharest, Cluj, and Timișoara.
We chose to support Rails Girls Bucharest, not only because at 4PSA women are significantly represented (approximately 45% of our software engineers are women). But because we truly believe that women play an important role in technology.
In 2013, the number of women in the field of computer design and technology grew by 42%, compared to 2003. Even so, the overall percentage of women in the IT industry is still low, somewhere between 10% and 20%. Hence, the growing number of all-female hackathons, free workshops, and trainings throughout the world. All with one purpose, to motivate women to switch to the IT world, where they have an important say.
So what exactly happened at Rails Girls Bucharest? After watching a tutorial on Ruby and going through a Q&A session, 32 participants started building their own app from scratch. Surely, building an app with close to 0 programming skills is not that easy. But with a strong will and the help of mentors, it is possible. Speaking of support, we lent a hand too by offering them a double perspective. Mihaela, leader of our Apps Backend Team, held a presentation on apps, simplifying what lies behind the interface, everything from services to stockage. Diana, leader of our Apps Sales Team, on the other hand, pointed out what working as a girl in a tech company feels like, giving insights on 4PSA’s culture and principles.
In the words of Monica Ioana Muntean, one of the founders of Girls Who Code Romania, “We like Rails Girls for lots of reasons, but most of all for the layout where every two participants get their own trainer, which has already been tested in so many cities since its foundation in Finland, in 2010. Both organizers and trainers invested a lot of passion and dedication in putting everything into place. But it was all worth it, because Rails Girls Bucharest brought us a lot of satisfaction. Out of the 240 girls who applied, we selected 32 whom we managed to inspire, encourage, and motivate to learn programming and code their own web applications.”
For us, it was an uplifting experience. It’s nice to see women with non-tech backgrounds such as arts, architecture, or journalism determined to create a functional app, in spite of having minimal knowledge in software engineering. When asked why they decided to participate, most of them said they had many ideas they wanted to express, but lacked the technical support to present them as they saw fit. And they thought an app they designed themselves would be the better alternative. Way to go, Rails Girls!