We chat­ted to Ally Wat­son, the CEO and co­founder of Code Like A Girl to get the low-down.

Girlfriend - - FEATURES -

For some­one who has ab­so­lutely no idea, how would you ex­plain cod­ing?

Just like hu­mans speak in lan­guages, com­put­ers speak in pro­gram­ming lan­guages. Cod­ing is the process of giv­ing in­struc­tions to a com­puter in the lan­guage it un­der­stands. How did you get into the in­dus­try? I spent my lunch hours at high school in the art depart­ment. But my dreams of be­com­ing the next Frida Kahlo never quite came true and, af­ter two years of re­jec­tions from art school, I de­cided to en­rol in Com­puter Sci­ence. I ex­celled in prob­lem­solv­ing and had al­ways got good grades in maths, so I was con­fi­dent I had the fun­da­men­tals down. Six months into the course, I fell in love with pro­gram­ming and this led me to a seven-year ca­reer work­ing in cre­ative agen­cies as a web de­vel­oper.

What per­cep­tions about the tech in­dus­try would you like to see changed?

The great­est chal­lenge for us is re­mov­ing the stigma that “tech is geeky” or “it’s only for guys” and en­gag­ing girls at a young age. Cod­ing is one of the most im­por­tant skills of the 21st cen­tury and there’s a tal­ent drought. Girls are not ex­posed to prob­lem-solv­ing and elec­tron­icbased games in the way boys are. This has led to a huge im­bal­ance in the num­ber of boys com­pared to girls who pur­sue tech­nol­ogy as a ca­reer path.

What in­spired you to start Code Like A Girl?

Af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the iso­la­tion as­so­ci­ated with be­ing the lone fe­male de­vel­oper, I de­cided to host an even­ing event to bring women to­gether to net­work and knowl­edge-share. We re­ceived over 100 RSVPs to our first event and it was at this mo­ment I re­alised we were onto some­thing. What started as an event se­ries has be­come so much more. We now run ed­u­ca­tional work­shops and code camps for women and girls of all ages, a job ad­ver­tise­ment ser­vice and a na­tional in­tern­ship pro­gram.

What are some of the cool things you can achieve with cod­ing ex­pe­ri­ence?

What I love about the tech com­mu­nity is the many mak­ers, tin­ker­ers or en­trepreneurs who thrive off the lim­it­less pos­si­bil­i­ties of what you can cre­ate with tech­nol­ogy.

It’s just such an in­spir­ing and ex­cit­ing com­mu­nity. Ev­ery busi­ness is a tech busi­ness nowa­days and, with cod­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, it’s hard to find any com­pany or in­dus­try not look­ing for some­one who knows how to code!

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