Local community members gathered in the Four Athens meeting space at 345 West Hancock Street at 6pm on Friday April 10th to begin a free weekend coding workshop offered by Rails Girls Athens volunteers with the support of several local businesses and organizations. The group of fourteen women and two men attending the workshop represented the diversity of the Athens community in both age range and ethnicity, with most having little or no programming experience. Over the course of Friday evening and all day Saturday, workshop attendees built a basic web application using the Ruby on Rails platform and learned the basics of programming logic under the instruction of Jordan Burke, Lead Developer at local health tech startup Vitamin C, and Liz Norton, co-organizer of the Rails Girls Athens group, with the support of seven Athens-based programmers serving as coaches.
Describing the Rails Girls weekend, volunteer instructor and member of Athens Area Software Developers Jordan Burke said, “Rails Girls is a unique opportunity for anyone curious about coding to explore the programming process and test their interest in a highly supportive atmosphere.”
The Rails Girls weekend workshop at Four Athens precedes a Rails Girls Atlanta event happening April 20th, just before the annual Rails Conference takes place for the first time in Atlanta April 21st through 23rd. Burke and several coaches from the Rails Girls Athens weekend event are attending the Rails Conference this year.
Originally founded in Finland in 2010, Rails Girls is an international volunteer community designed to give women the tools and environment to understand technology by making technology more approachable. Liz Norton, also an Athens area developer and co-organizer of the Athens Women in Tech group explained, “It’s not enough to just encourage women to learn to code. There needs to be an environment where they can feel comfortable asking questions.” Guides for organizing Rails Girls events are provided on the site at railsgirls.com for groups like Rails Girls Athens to utilize and adapt to their community’s needs.
Events like the Rails Girls weekend coding workshop make use of the community meeting space provided by Four Athens at their offices in the Hancock street building. Four Athens is a 501(c)3 non-profit formed in 2011 with a mission of improving economic outcomes in Athens by fostering entrepreneurship and improving technology education in the region. More information about Four Athens can be found at www.fourathens.com and on Facebook at facebook.com/fourathens.