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To Hell With The Ol’ Boys Club

by Carey Tucker

Women are underrepresented in the tech world. If that statement sounds a bit cliché, it’s because we’ve all heard it for so long and unfortunately, the facts back up this sad reality. According to a study by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, men are twice as likely as women to be hired for a math-related job when the only difference between candidates is gender. While many simply bemoan the status quo, 100 Girls of Code, an initiative started by TN Code Academy, wants to level the playing field with their female-only coding workshops.

Led by Paige Keenan and Alex Kelly, the Atlanta chapter is kicking off this summer and their upcoming free workshop for young programmers has already reached full capacity. We recently chatted with Paige and Alex to get the scoop on the organization itself and their backgrounds in tech.

Elevator pitch/mission statement:
Kelly: We’re here to show girls that they can be strong contenders in the tech industry.

Keenan: By targeting them at a young age, we hope to do so by creating confidence in their tech skills at our workshops.

What workshop topics do you have in the pipeline?
Kelly: Our first camp is on July 11th at the Iron Yard here in Atlanta. It’s an all day event that covers some introductory game development as well as the basics of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. We’re hoping to offer these camps every month, and depending on how quickly they fill up possibly bump that up to twice a month.

Keenan: In the future, we’d like to host special workshops focusing on just one specific skill.

Kelly: We’ve also got a lesson plan in the works for a Modular Robotics workshop, the date will be announced on our chapter site.

What do you want to achieve with this group?
Keenan: We are teaching 3 separate aspects of development because we want the girls to be able to sample what they might enjoy most in technology. All 3 aspects vary in code and even language, so the girls will really get a sense of maybe what they would like to focus on.

Kelly: We want to set a foundation of passion for learning and empower girls to get into the world of Computer Science. Beyond our role as instructors, we hope to be mentors to these girls, inspiring them to confidently pursue any and all of their interests.

Is there anything that the community can do to help?
Kelly: We’ve paired up with The Iron Yard (HUGE shout out to Lindsay Sutton, she’s been awesome) for our first event, but as we grow we’ll want the ability to run multiple camps at once so please give us a shout if you’ve got space and would like to host us!

Keenan: We’re always looking for volunteers to help us run the chapter. We want to help as many girls learn as we can, so that requires assistance from as many female techs as we can. As our mission is to get more young girls interested in technology, if you know of any girls interested in tech but maybe shy, have them come to one of our classes. They can register here.

More on The Dynamic Duo


Paige Keenan

What’s your current role?
Officially, Presentation Layer Engineer at Razorfish. But that’s just our way of saying junior front-end developer.

What are your best technical or creative skills?
My best technical skill is my attention to detail. As a front-end developer, it’s my job to make sure the site functions properly first, but I also am responsible for making sure the end project looks the way the designer intends it to. Attention to detail is critical because designers tend to make subtle enhancements and it’s my job to make sure they subtle things make it into the site.

Next on your list to learn?
I would love to master all forms of animations. I think coding animations is really where coding really meets art. I’m drawn to front-end development because I get to visually see what I’m creating as I code and animations have the same appeal to me as well as triggering my need for creating and being creative.

Why the focus on girls in tech?
I’m interested in getting girls in tech because there are so few. I’m the only girl in technology at my company and that’s crazy to me. I feel like I’m in on some secret that I just want to share with everyone. I think it is critical to target young girls in technology because we really have the power to influence them into this huge world of tech that actually desperately needs to and – from what I’ve experienced- wants to hire more women.

Alex Kelly

What’s your current role?
I’m an Email Developer for MailChimp!

Next on your list to learn?
Professionally: I’ll be learning Java in the Fall and I’m looking into taking some classes to ramp up my design skills; I’ve got almost no experience with design work so I’d like to change that.

Personally: How to play the banjo.

Why the interest in startups and the technology field?
Ah man, so many reasons. I came for the action and stayed for the people. It feels awesome to be a part of this huge group of people that are out there creating incredible things. And the rate of change in this industry is pretty astonishing so it’s impossible to get bored, it allows me to be the perpetual student.

Why the focus on girls in tech?
I think a large part of it is that I really wish something like this had been around when I was a kid. I fell into this field completely by accident in my 20s. I’m hoping that by reaching out and teaching young girls, I can help them find their paths earlier than I did. Plus, the Atlanta tech community has been really great and supportive, I feel that it’s my turn to give back.

Follow 100 Girls of Code on:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/girlsofcode?fref=ts
Twitter: https://twitter.com/100girlsofcode
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/100-girls-of-code

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