A Day with Django Girls Manchester

Arctic Shores have been a sponsor of Django Girls Manchester since it’s inception. The not-for-profit organisation introduces women from all backgrounds to coding through a workshop where attendees build their first webpages. Jørn, one of Arctic Shores’ Server Developers, acts as a mentor for Django Girls in his spare time and has shared his experience of his first event with us:

“Django Girls is a great charity that introduces women to coding. Attendance is only possible with no prior experience with it. Some participants have limited experience with computing in general. I decided to get involved and become a mentor because of my personal interest in coding; I wanted to share my passion and make coding more accessible.

The event takes place over two days, with the first being an ‘install’ day which involves the installation of all required software to create a Django App, share it and host it for the world to see! This enables participants to start coding straight away on day two! Participants spend the day building their own basic webpages, such as a blogging platform. Once this is up and running it is easy to design to the user’s specific needs and layout preferences, and to fill it with content.

At the event, there were around 70 Django Girls (from a range of age groups, backgrounds and professions), allowing for each mentor to oversee two of them. This provided a great opportunity for mentors to work closely with participants and really teach and support them one-on-one. Most mentors are professional Django Developers so the attendees are in great hands!

However, despite my extensive experience in coding, I found the event quite challenging; as simple coding tasks have become such a small part of my day-to-day, I had to re-teach myself the very basics, to then be able to share this knowledge with my mentees. I also had to solve problems with the attendees that I hadn’t encountered in a long time. In my job, I tend to work on established projects. Having to set up webpages from scratch isn’t something I do often, so I had to refresh my memory on the entire process.

On the whole, participating as a mentor in Django Girls was a really fun and rewarding experience. It was great to see young women enjoy the coding process and get excited as they succeeded in building and designing their pages. One particularly interesting moment was supporting a participant who struggled with navigating and browsing on a computer. I assisted her in putting and positioning text elements onto her own blog using Django. This is a big task for someone with no previous coding experience and it was great to see how far she had come in such a short space of time.

My involvement with the Django Girls organisation has taught me a lot about how to teach the basics of creating websites, simple programming and the general use of computers to individuals who are novices. I’ve really enjoyed mentoring today’s female youth and seeing them blossom and make so much progress in the short span of two days. In addition to inspiring young women to code, these events give Arctic Shores a meaningful connection to the local community.”

Self efficacy (an individual’s belief in their innate ability to achieve goals) impacts STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) education outcomes, aspirations and performance. Across science and maths, girls have a lower self efficacy compared to boys – a difference that has seen little improvement since 2006. Globally, only 35% of higher education students studying STEM subjects are women. We are proud to sponsor an organisation determined to change this, and have team members willing to volunteer!

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