Yesterday was the first ever Women Who Code Belfast event. To be in the position of being able to host a successful event, a lot of hard work has been put in behind the scenes – website design, poster creation, networking and harnessing the power of social media. Thanks to everyone for their help and support.
The event kicked off at half 5, with women of all different backgrounds filling the seats. The room was buzzing with developers, designers, founders and some women who just wanted to see what working in tech would be like. Despite everyone’s varying backgrounds, everyone had the same opinion – they were so glad that an organisation like this now exists in Belfast for women to get together, chat, network and learn some new skills from other like-minded people. One of my aims of founding WWC Belfast was to create a haven for tech women to come and grow confidence in their skills, and therefore be prepared to take on any IT related job that may come their way.
After everyone had their fill of pizza, I opened the event. I began by talking about why we need WWC Belfast and what it will bring to all involved. TED recently conducted a survey and found that in the past 20 years, there has only been a 3% rise of women in tech. This kind of shocking statistic hit home and everyone in the audience wholly agreed that a lot of work is needed to rectify this issue. As well as that, only 24% of University of Ulster Computer Science students and 10% of Queen’s University Computer Science students are female. This proves that effort is needed before university level too. Through WWC Belfast, I wholly intend in education the younger generation about all of the career prospects they can have by studying an IT related degree/choosing Computing as an A Level.
After I closed, Colleen Crangle, a now Silicon Valley researcher spoke to the audience. Colleen has been a woman in tech since the 70s. She shared her experiences of working firstly in South Africa, to then moving to the US to attend Stanford University, where she received a PhD in Philosophy. I chose Colleen to speak at our first event because she hasn’t chosen a stereotypical path to get into tech. Instead, she followed what she really loved and created a link between it and computer science, proving that not being a stereotypical “geek” is no reason to not get into the IT industry. If there no link between what you love and what you’d like to do in tech, create one!
Colleen then talked about why she thinks there’s a lack of women in IT here and how she can see already that WWC Belfast will help as a fix for it. Several audience members stated that they were put off studying Computer Science because their teachers at A Level told them it was “too mathsy” and “just not for them”, to which Colleen replied that it is no one’s job to tell you what you can and cannot do. If you have an interest, go for it!
After Colleen wrapped up, Jackie Pollock (@kievia), a senior Software Engineer at Kainos Software delivered a precise and informative session on Common Design Patterns in Code. Jackie began by telling us how she came about working at Kainos and why she chose to be a Software Engineer. During her career, Jackie realised how much she loved interacting with clients and knew that she wanted to cross over to being a Technical Consultant. By speaking up and taking note of her skill set, she now works actively with several clients in Kainos, doing what she loves. Jackie is proof that by choosing a career in IT, you are not delegated to just one job – you can branch out and find what’s perfect for you. During Jackie’s session, I noticed a lot of attendees taking notes on her work. This in itself, is proof of how interested these women are and how eager they are to develop new skill sets.
After Jackie finished up, I closed the session by putting a call out to all attendees. If anyone is interested in speaking or you have any queries/feedback, please contact @WWCBelfast, or tweet to me directly on @nirushika. If you want to email, contact email@example.com.
Once the event officially finished, attendees stayed on and chatted to each other. Some great connections were made and from chatting to the majority of the women, I now know exactly what the WWC Belfast market needs and how to get it for them.
I have already received some amazing feedback on this event, which just acts as an incentive to make WWC Belfast a huge success.
- “Fantastic event – inspiring and enthusiastic speakers and organisers – this is already a success! Really attracted a varied crowd too – all sorts of professional and academic backgrounds and that’s the ticket for innovation.”
- “Great, packed event – very inspiring. Looking forward to more : )”
- “Great kickoff event; can’t wait to see what the future holds for Women Who Code Belfast!”
As always, please sign up to our meetup page, to be kept up to date with all future events, and follow us on @WWCBelfast for all announcements.
Our January and February events can be RSVPed to there, and I’ll be announcing something very exciting for our March event.
Watch this space,
-WWC Belfast Founder