Networking paves the road for female coders

Female_Coders is a new network for female students who are interested in programming. On Monday, October 12, the group held its first workshop at the IT University of Copenhagen.

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Despite the clock approaching eight on a Monday night during autumn break, there is a mood of intense concentration in ScrollBar at the IT University. More than 60 women and 15 female and male volunteers are gathered for the first workshop of Female_Coders, a new network aiming to inspire more female students to learn programming skills. Tonight HTML and CSS are on the programme, and the participants are working hard on coding their own simple websites.

One of the students who have turned up for the workshop is Hannah Gutkauf, who studies innovation and management at ITU. She strongly supports the new network.

"I took an introductory course in programming where there were only 4 or 5 women in the class, but the level was too high - it felt like all the others already knew five different programming languages. So I dropped out and decided to learn it myself. It's really good to have a network where we can work together and get help if there is something we don’t understand. "

A lack of role models

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In many IT companies there are almost only male programmers, and there is a certain idea of what a programmer is like - for example that they are not very social. I would like break the stereotype.

Lara Neumann, Founder of Female_Coders
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The woman behind Female_Coders is 24-year-old Lara Neumann, who studies Digital Innovation & Management at ITU. She founded the network because she saw a need for a forum that supports women with an interest in IT and technology.

"Many women would like to learn how to code, but don’t know how to get started. I think that when you create an environment where you can ask questions and not feel stupid when there is something you don’t understand, it is easier to get started."

Lara hopes that Female_Coders can be a support for women who want to create a career within IT, since it is not always easy being a woman in the heavily male-dominated IT industry. She believes that a lack of role models partly explains why men outnumber women in both software education programmes and corporate IT departments.

Lara Neumann is the founder of Female_Coders. She is studying Digital Innovation & Management at ITU.
"In many IT companies there are almost only male programmers, and there is a certain idea of what a programmer is like - for example that they are not very social. I would like break the stereotype."

Creating better results
Companies are also finding that there is much to be gained by increasing the diversity of IT departments. Heidi Lindegaard works with entrepreneurs and programmers at IBM, which is co-sponsoring the first Female_Coders workshop. She believes that IT projects become better when men and women work together.

"We get a better end result when both women and men come to the table with their good ideas and create something together. In the best start-ups and projects we often see that different skills have complemented each other. "

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We get a better end result when both women and men come to the table with their good ideas and create something together.

Heidi Lindegaard, IBM
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Lara Neumann agrees. According to her, women bring creativity and communication skills into the programming world.

"I think many women have a very creative approach to programming, so they can help to create a better result. Women want to understand the whole context and base their work on real life, not just look at the numbers – and they are good at communicating."

Jana Schellong is a student at CBS. She has decided to learn how to program in order to become better at communicating with her more technical partners.

"I'm working on an idea for a start-up, and when I talk to the developers, I often don’t understand what they’re saying, so I want to be able to communicate with them. It would also be cool to learn to fix some of the technical issues myself."