Django Girls Introduces Women to Programming at Andela Nairobi

Mbithe Nzomo is an Andela developer based in Nairobi, Kenya. Last week, she and fellow Andela developer Joan Ngatia hosted a Django Girls event at Andela's Nairobi headquarters. We asked her to share a wrap-up of the event.When Joan Ngatia told me she was thinking of planning a Django Girls workshop in Nairobi, I was thrilled. Django Girls is a non-profit organization and community that organizes free one-day programming workshops for women who have never coded before. Since it began in 2014, Django Girls workshops have been held in 195 cities in 66 countries and have been attended by more than 7,500 women. Django Girls is named after Django, the web framework based on the Python programming language. Participants of the workshop build a blog from scratch using Python and Django following a tutorial.Django Girls’ mission of inspiring women to fall in love with programming deeply resonates with me, so I was excited when Joan told me about her plan to revive the community in Nairobi. (A Django Girls workshop had been held in Nairobi before, but the original organizer had to leave the country and the community had since dwindled.) About a year ago when I was looking to learn Django, the Django Girls blog tutorial (which is open-sourced and available to the public) was a key resource for me.

The Andela community proved to be extremely supportive during the planning process. Joshua Mwaniki, Andela Kenya’s Country Director, guided us through countless revisions of our sponsorship proposal, leveraging his experience as a business executive who’s received many requests for sponsorship. Wambui Kinya, our Chief Strategy Officer, and James Ndiga, Recruitment Manager, connected us with their networks, putting us in touch with potential sponsors. We eventually had Google come on board as a gold sponsor through their Women Techmakers outfit. We also had Anthony Nandaa, a Technical Team Lead at Andela, sign up as a bronze sponsor through his company, Kazi+.Andela developers also came through to support our workshop, with six volunteering to be coaches and another five volunteering to help with logistics on the crucial days leading up to the workshop. I must also acknowledge the many Andelans who retweeted, reblogged, and shared our messages on social media, spreading the news of Django Girls Nairobi far and wide.More than 150 women applied to participate in our workshop. Our application form asked applicants to give an example of an innovative solution in the tech industry, and to articulate how they’d share their new-found knowledge with others. We were looking for women who were beginners in programming, but who could clearly express their passion for technology and their desire to learn how to code. With this criteria, we were able to narrow down the list to 34 incredible women who came to workshop eager to build their first website and network with technology professionals.

Ultimately, Django Girls Nairobi 2016 was an absolute success! It was hosted at The Dojo, Andela’s Nairobi campus. We sent out a post-workshop feedback form to the participants, and 100% of the respondents reported that they intended to continue to code and/or to pursue careers in technology. This is fantastic feedback, and Joan and I are currently working to set up a mentorship pipeline where Andela developers can sign up to mentor the participants of the workshop in their programming journey.

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