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Community Insights , News

Recap 2020: What this year has taught us

Time to leave 2020 behind us, but before doing that let’s have a little recap of what we learned this year and the progress we made.

Previously, we wrote an in depth post about the changes our community had undergone this year in “Insights in a community undergoing change and growth“. Because of that earlier post, we can now focus on what we have learned and achieved this year as well as focus on the future.

What 2020 was all about

We’ll start by looking back upon the plans we shared last year in “our second year in retrospect“-post. Back then we talked about 4 major goals:

  1. Our event goals
  2. The launch of a monthly newsletter
  3. The start of a community blog
  4. Starting an interview series that features our community members

Our event goals

Our ambitions were to organise 4 editions of TechTalks and 1 or 2 crossover events. How did that turn out? Due to the pandemic, we had to cancel all scheduled events. In the meantime we launched a new event online: “After-work hangout sessions“. This event was called to life in order to create a supportive network during these stressful times. Anxiety has crept up a lot of people during this year and we wondered what we could do for our community members who were struggling.

During these after-work hangout sessions our members can vent their concerns and doubts, and discuss topics that they take to heart. Besides the room to vent, we also talk about more light-hearted things such as hobbies and interests or sometimes a specific theme.

In September we organised our first online edition of TechTalks and were able to invite 5 guest speakers, who each presented a lightning talk. You can read the recap of the event here on our blog.

What we learned

We learned that we quickly needed to adapt and make a choice. By moving our events online we new that we weren’t limited anymore by the boundaries of on-location events. Online events are more accessible to attend, since you don’t have to commute, which is probably also a big plus for the moms in our community. No need to find a babysitter or juggling with the little free time they have.

The lockdown was the push we needed to finally start organising online events. We had already considered it before, but somehow it looked more challenging back then.

Another thing we learned was that moving online doesn’t mean there will be less no-shows… This is why we kindly want to ask all of you: If you RSVP for something, please update your RSVP if you can’t make it. The amount of people participating in an online event can really impact the group dynamics.

Newsletters, interviews and a blog

Remember how we mentioned last year, that we were going to launch a monthly newsletter alongside a blog and start interviewing community members? We did it! We managed to send out 10 editions of our monthly newsletters and reached our first 100 subscribers, a small victory!

This year we managed to feature 9 amazing womxn, each with their own story and wisdom to share through our interview series.

local womxn who code featured in 2020's interview series:
- Veerle Verbert
- Ksenia Karelskaya
- Janique-ka John
- Silke Henderickx
- Janine George
- Zeynep H. Kapusuz
- Griet Van Loo
- Marijke Meersman
All the wonderful womxn we featured in our community spotlight series

What we learned

Sending out a newsletter every month does take up a chunk of time to get it right. Outsourcing a few columns was a life-saver and a good way for us to involve members. Members such as Federica, one of our volunteers who has been curating the articles for the “what we are reading/watching“-column as well as the “Tips, Tricks and Resources“-column. I think we can all agree that she is doing a wonderful job!

Secondly, we learned that interviewing people comes with its own challenges. Even if people agree to an interview, this doesn’t mean it’s going to be a cakewalk. All our interviews are written. This challenges us to come up with better ways to draw out better answers to the questions we are posing. What works for one person, doesn’t necessarily work for another.

Free memberships

While memberships weren’t mentioned in last years recap, this was definitely something we have been working on for quite a while; and thus, we are very pleased that we were able to launch the free community memberships this year!

Every womxn who codes, who is living in Belgium, can apply for a free membership.

Launching memberships seemed like a logical move in preparation of our journey to become a non-profit association. We’ll reveal more about this next year. 😉

Members get access to our member-only space, new events and so on… More info on the benefits of memberships and how to apply can be found on the membership landingpage.

Wrapping it up

Community achievements in 2020
- Published 10 editions of our monthly newsletter
- Reached +100 subscribers
- Interviewed 9 womxn who code
- Organised our 1st online TechTalks
- Launched free memberships

Newsletters, interviews and memberships are probably the 3 biggest initiatives we undertook since we first started out. Each of these initiatives is a part of our goal to bring womxn who code in Belgium closer together. And to create a positive impact on the Belgian tech scene, maybe even the whole STEM community!

Planning for 2021

In 2021 we will focus on growth and improvement. We are hoping more womxn will apply for our free memberships and that a few more volunteers will join our team.

On our member-space we will keep working on creating a great onboarding experience for new members and set up a way to find and match mentees with mentors.

We’ll continue our interview series that feature local womxn who code and expand our blog with guest posts written by our members. We believe that it’s important to show that there are many talented womxn living in Belgium! ✨ In order to achieve this we want to share all kinds of content created by and in cooperation with our community members.

Our events in 2021

Events in 2021 will be a bit different from last year, now that we have free memberships. For instance, there will be a lot more events and a lot of different events; the events are free of charge but most will be members-only.

We made a list of the types of events we already have planned for 2021:

👑 = members-only

Frequent game events

Games are an excellent way to get to know other members and have fun at the same time. A few years back we started organising small game events with community members, but now we are kicking it up a notch!

Currently a small group of members is already playing Among Us. And this is just the start! 🤩

A little sneak preview

In preparation for next year, we’ve created a little sneak preview of some events. (Game, network and social events aren’t included in this list)

Community events 2021

January - Infosession volunteers
February - Portfolio & resume review sessions, TechTalks online
April - TechTalks online
TBA - Porfolio & resume review sessions
September - TechTalks Online
November - Anniversary event
A preview of our event schedule for 2021
Looking for speakers!

If you are interested in public speaking, we are already looking for speakers for our online TechTalks events! The first one coming up is in February and the speaking format will be lightning talks. ⚡️

More info can be found here: Speaker info

Feedback wanted!

Lastly, before we wrap it all up, we have one request for you dear reader. No matter who you are, or where you’re from. You could help us a great deal if you would spare another minute to provide us some feedback.

Our goal is to improve the content on our website and to make it more accessible.

You can give feedback via this short form we created 😁

Thank you for staying with us till the end of this post!

If you enjoyed reading this, feel free to share it with your network. 😊

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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...