Coding = Superhero Powers! My Weekend at Rails Girls Zurich

Last weekend I participated in the Rails Girls event at ImpactHub Zurich. Rails Girls is a global movement of Ruby on Rails workshops for women. The goal of the workshop series is to teach more women how code can be used in their everyday lives and ultimately get more women into professional coding. In Zurich, a couple of the female coaches have been participants only two years ago and made coding into their full-time career since. I really liked that the workshop not only included coding sessions, but also sharing these stories about how coding skills can be applied after the workshop, and how software developers work. I was hooked by the example that Rodrigo, one of the organizers, presented during the introduction sessions. One of the participants used to spend a full day a month with a boring, routine job and with her Ruby knowledge she was then able to write a simple application that automates this task for her. As Rodrigo put it – coding gives you superhero skills to make your life easier.

In my work as UX designer and strategist, I think coding skills come in handy when creating a mock-up or prototype of my concepts. There is software, such as Axure, which offers really advanced prototyping features, however, I think it is not necessary to build a mock-up in a separate software when it can be done in “real” code straightaway. Being able to do this, is my objective in coding.

Railsgirls3

After the installation and networking party on Friday evening and the introduction session on Saturday morning, we formed teams and the coding started. I really liked that there were plenty of coaches available for questions, so one coach looked after only two or three participants. The group was really diverse, it included women of all ages and backgrounds with different levels of experience in coding. Of course, one day is not enough to really lern Ruby on Rails, even though Ruby seems to be really easy to learn and “optimized for developer happiness” as one of the coaches put it. However, the workshop day gives you a glimpse of how the language works and I feel like I am set up to continue learning by myself.

In case you want to try it as well, you can look out for a Rails Girls event near you or check out the following resources:

  • TryRuby.org – short tutorial to quickly get into the basics (it says “15 minutes” but it took me rather 30…)
  • Rails Girls Guides – contains a very comprehensive tutorial on building and enhancing your first application.

Thank you Marion, Rodrigo & Tuğçe for putting together such an awesome event, to all the participants for being such an inspiring and cheerful crowd, and to all the coaches who were so helpful in not only answering questions but sharing their experiences in the software development world.

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