About a half year ago, a couple of days before november's budapest.rb meetup, we got an email to the meetup's list from some girls, what I can say happens really rarely :). They wanted to know if they can advertise an event, called RailsGirls, what we first heard about at a conference in Brno 2 years ago.
RailsGirls is an initiative, where girls without having any programming knowledge are taught basic programming skills, by implementing their own web application in Ruby on Rails. It's originated from Finland, and was founded by Linda Liukas and Karri Saarinen. The first event was held in November 2010 and by today it grew into an international event series.
The hungarian girls, namely Boglárka Weltz, Brigitta Vitályos and Mária Ackermann wanted to organize the first RailsGirls Budapest event, and were searching for supporters. We liked the idea a lot and after some meetings we agreed that DiNa will offer its help: we volunteered to be coaches on the event, our one-and-only female coder Zsófi, Lucas and myself tried to do our best, and helped the girls on the event. We also created a special development environment, with which the girls could start programming on their own machine easily (I'll write a more techie post about this environment in the near future).
We started to hold coach-meetings before the event, where we planned Saturday's agenda, and the final application's scope. We decided that since english-knowledge is still an issue within the hungarian community, we translate all necessary information and publish them in hungarian, so we created a tutorial page for the event.
We got up really excited on March 22nd, and our excitement grew when arriving to LOFFICE we saw 60 motivated girls reserving all available seats. It turned out, that 120 people attended before, so we hope that RailsGirls is going to be continued. DiNa was participating on the other side as well: I successfully convinced all the non-programmer girls in the office, that if they participate on RailsGirls, they will understand our geek-talk in the kitchen from that point, so Anita, Marietta and Rita were among the students as well! :)
We started the day with an introduction to web-development, where we tried to clean up the most important buzzwords around our profession.
We continued the day with tryruby.org, which is a great service containing an interactive ruby console, with which you can pick up some basic ruby programming skills in a funny way. But the time quickly came: the girls finally started to implement a full-stack application by their own. At the end, about 90% of the girls had a fully implemented, working application where they were able to create/edit/list/delete their ideas, protected with an advanced user management system, designed with the help of bootstrap. The majority of the girls were even able to deploy their application to Heroku despite having the usual problems with the WiFi connection.
We split the day with 2 motivation speech. I was focusing on 3 reasons, why you really should be a programmer.
We were really glad with the result and was really good to see how the initial desperation disappeared from the girls' face by the afternoon, and how they even started to customize their application to their needs! We really hope that it's going to be a series and we can continue supporting this very need: MORE GIRLS TO GEEKWORLD! :)