Romanian coding girls: closing the gender gap one code line at a time

Jun 18, 2014 by Alexandra

Rails Girls logoRecent studies have once again confirmed that, although the software development industry is one of the fastest growing industries at global level, the number of women involved in software projects is significantly lower than that of men. In 2013, for example, only 27% of all students attending the courses of the Computer Science department (at the Polytechnic University of Bucharest) have been girls. It seems that the main reason why girls tend to avoid such a challenging field as IT and software development, according to Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes is the "impostor syndrome". This states that many women working in high-achieving areas, such as IT and software development, tend to underestimate themselves and believe they are not smart enough, or that they are over-evaluated by their peers.

In response to these statistics, 3 Romanian women: Monica Muntean, Silvia Stegaru and Andreea Visanoiu have created in 2014 the group "Girls who code" that wants to be a "social environment" and an "all girls club" for Romanian women programmers. This idea was inspired by the "Rails girls" movement, which is one of the biggest international community that works towards closing the gender gap in IT, by giving young women the help and tools needed in order to build their projects.

So what started as a small group, "Girls who code" has now almost 1000 members active members, and things don't stop here :)

Last month, on May 30 - 31, at TechHub, the "Girls who code" together with "Girls in Tech Romania", "Tech Lounge" and "Rails girls" organizations worked together and organized the event "Rails Girls - Bucharest". This event is the first of its kind in Romania, where young (non software developers) women took part in a 2 day free workshop on how to develop a software application.

The event was a success, more than 240 applications have been submitted for 30 available spots. I have to admit that it's inspiring to see how girls who don't have a technical background (most of them study marketing, tourism, accounting or are still in high school) have learned about Ruby programming, client-side and server-side differences, app or web development, and even had the chance to work on their own application. Groups of 2 participants and 1 leader (who was a software developer with previous work experience) have been created in order to make the learning process easier.

The event had several important sponsors, such as: GitHub and 4PSA, which show that the Romanian software development industry encourages young girls to become developers.

The "Rails Girls - Bucharest" event is one step further towards closing the gender gap in a male driven industry in Romania. The constant support of organizations, such as "Girls who code" or "Rails Girls" will continue to play an active role into encouraging and counseling women to have a career in software development, and this can only be regarded as a big plus for Romania and for the global software developers community.


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