(Photo by Stephen Babcock)
Last Saturday wasn’t the only Saturday that Kareshma Mohanty has spent coding with other women.
A year ago, the project manager at Medical Decision Logic participated in the first Bmore on Rails Workshop for Women to get a better handle on what developers are experiencing.
On Saturday, Feb. 20, Mohanty was back at Betamore for the Workshop for Women’s second edition. This year, she planned to make strides toward finishing the self-paced tutorial, which included this one on Ruby and Rails, review sessions and a few dev talks about core concepts throughout the day.
“I just didn’t accomplish what I wanted to [last year], which is why I’m back this year, to push myself over the edge and get it done,” she said.
Mohanty was joined by more than 75 other women for the all-day session. The prospect of sharing her love of programming and coding with other women was enough to motivate Fractured Atlas developer Natasha Jones to head up organizing the event, which was also supported by Bmore on Rails members and Betamore. But the act of bringing women together and introducing them to coding also has wider implications in an industry that remains male-dominated.
Why it matters
A key to the conversation around women in tech often comes to building a “pipeline” of future tech talent through early STEM and coding education in schools. But there’s also several lines of thought that indicate pipeline is only part of it. In November, Emily Rasowsky talked about expanding the definition of women in tech. For her part, Jones said bringing more women already in the workforce into tech can also lead to more equity.
“Part of what we can do to make the pipeline stronger is also to get women switching careers into programming, because then we have women that can serve as mentors,” Jones said. Then, when the next generation of women are educated, they won’t be looking at all men — like participant Carolyn Atwill said she did in the federal government.
While STAQ was a sponsor and CTO Mike Subelsky put in a word about how the company was hiring, that’s not to say that the aim of the event was to have every women leave and go out looking for a tech job. But there were signs that it served as an entry point into the Baltimore tech scene.
Jones said she has seen more women at the twice-monthly Bmore on Rails meetup. One of those was Ashley Jean, who was also back for her second year of the Workshop for Women — this time as a coach. Jean, who works in finance, also took a Girl Develop It course following last year’s workshop.
“To see a room full of women was very encourage because I felt like I was in a very supportive environment,” she said.
For her part, Mohanty and a smaller group of women started a weekend coding group. “We were all doing our own thing, but we would just code next to each other,” she said.
To Angelique Weger, who was a coach Saturday and organizes Girl Develop It’s Baltimore chapter, the new faces and new groups forming are a sign of growth.
“There are people here who I don’t know, and that makes me feel really good about the thriving Baltimore tech scene and the women in it,” she said.