A local community on the rise
Why we started our own local community for women who code
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:
- to meet like-minded people from the same gender
- to not always have to be like one of the “guys”
- because I felt lonely and well, some things are easier to talk about with someone from the same gender group as yourself.
- because there are less known inspiring female role models… I personally had a hard time finding them.
- I always felt “different” from women who didn’t work in tech or something similar… and thus often having a hard time to connect with them.
- feeling isolated after multiple occasions of being mistreated by colleagues and employers. Being the only woman in companies full of stereotypical white men, wasn’t exactly always fun… And who do you talk to if you’re alone?
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!
That’s when I decided to jump into action and set up a meeting with both!
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:
- creating a community twitter account
- creating a slack group
- setting up all the web stuff and a small one pager with some our goal
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! 🎉
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…