Community Insights

A local community on the rise

Why we started our own local community for women who code

A local community on the rise - picture of a blue sky with many balloons

Hi, my name is Claudia, I’m one of the co-founders of women.code(be) and this is the story of how our women.code(be) community came to exist.

A bit of personal history

I have been part of the tech community since 2006, that’s about when I started learning how to write code. And since then I have been to a lot of local events, meet-ups, small conferences and so on…

But even from before I started college, it was already very noticeable to me that there were very few women in tech. In my freshman year, the group I started in counted about 300 students and only 3.5% of that group were women. So that’s… not much.

Later on when I started working in tech companies, I often was the only technical woman. And it didn’t get any better when I went to meet-ups. I often was the the only one there, unless when it was a very popular event, then there might’ve been one or two others.

Where the idea originated

I really felt like I was missing something, why was it so hard to connect to other women in tech and especially the ones that code? In other countries a lot of communities and support groups already existed. Like Women Who Code, Girl Develop It, Rails Girls, PyLadies, you name it…

In my opinion, this was something seriously lacking in our little country.

So, the reasons why I wanted such a local group were simple:

Not so long ago

At some point I became part of some global communities, but that didn’t solve the problem I had with connecting with local women who code. So it got me thinking about starting a community myself.

Of course I had to find some co-founders first, because it all seemed a bit much to do on my own. And one day I just blurted out a tweet that said how I found it unfortunate that there still wasn’t any local chapter for women who code or something similar.

I hoped to get at least a conversation started about it and if I was fortunate enough, to spark some interest in someone so that they would start this adventure with me. Apparently I was lucky enough to have my little tweet reaching the right people: Eva and Maartje!

A twitter thread screenshot that shows how women.code(be) got started.
A reply by Maartje to the twitter thread that got women.code(be) started

That’s when I decided to jump into action and set up a meeting with both!

The screenshot of the invitation Claudia posted on twitter, to get women.code(be) started

Finding common goals

Not long after that initial tweet we planned to meet up and see where it would bring us. We talked, laughed, basically had a great time over dinner & drinks and started brainstorming about how this could work, what our common goals are and so on…

First, we needed to find a name, which wasn’t easy. But suddenly the idea popped inside my head: “What if… we call the community women.code(be)?

In case you are wondering how to pronounce it, it’s women dot code be or you could just say women dot code (which almost sounds like women that code). 👩‍💻

We quickly agreed on the name and as for goals, we decided that our focus should be on connecting people, creating a space/platform where people can feel like they can be themselves, providing a supportive and harassment free environment, where you can learn from your fellow peers.

So, with all of that in mind, we made a plan with some steps to kickstart our brand new community!

That’s when it all became real

Our first steps were:

It all went down pretty smoothly, since each of us just took the initiative to get a certain task done. And so we were already a-hell-of-a-lot closer to going public.

And that’s when the moment came when we were sort of ready. We send out our first tweet with our shiny brand new community account and used our personal accounts for a bigger reach.

Honestly, we never expected our first shoutout on twitter would get SO many retweets. I think I felt overwhelmed, excited, happy and a bit scared all at the same time. I think all three of us where so happy to see this hit off like it did!

And so here we are today, slowly going towards 100 members and we just had our first meet-up as well! 🎉

Our very first meetup at the creativity gym in Mechelen. This was our official launch event back in 2018, 3 months after we started.

What’s up next?

Next up is further focus on growing our community, not per se in terms of numbers, but in terms of value. Think about what can we offer our members, getting to know the people in our community, share ideas with them and try to realize some of those ideas.

Also organising more meet-ups, social nights and so on…

By Claudia

I was never good at writing bio's, but here goes:
Avid (board) gamer, always wondering if someone got the number of that donkey cart? On a more serious note: Community founder and Chief of Sprinkles here at women.code(be), often planning our next move. May or may not have experience in front-end development, UX design and product management...