What I Learned From DjangoGirls

Oct 13, 2015 Django DjangoCon

In September of this year, in conjunction with DjangoCon 2015, I helped to organize a DjangoGirls event in Austin, TX.

This isn't meant to be a comprehensive overview of the class - many other organizers in other cities have done just that already, and summed up the joys and triumphs of the day better than I could:

I just wanted to talk about a few of the things I learned from running this event.

The first thing I discovered was that the corporate/sponsoring members of our community are very generous. What they get out of it: exposure, and more new developers coming down the pipeline some time in the future. What we get out of it: The chance to support beginning developers on their journey not just once, but twice!

I also learned to appreciate this class for what it is.

When I first heard about DjangoGirls last year, I was skeptical. I've taught beginner Python classes for many years and I know that there's only so much you can impart to a student in a day. Too much, too quickly, can intimidate and send prospective new developers running.

But what you'll see when you host (or coach) one of these events is that finishing is not the point. Some students will walk out with a completed Django app, but not everyone. It is, I still believe, a very ambitious curriculum for a beginner to take on in one day. But finishing the app is not the point.

The point is to start. The point is to dip your toes in, to get familiar with the tools and vocabulary. It's to begin to build something, struggle with wrapping your head around new concepts, encounter and solve some bugs. And to realize that these struggles are normal and surmountable, that bumping up against a problem isn't a disaster - it's an opportunity to learn more.

The women leaving our class back in September all left knowing that they can do it, that they're no more impostors than any of us are.

And thanks to the generous sponsors mentioned above, we'll be giving 40 more students the opportunity to accomplish something new.

On December 12, DjangoGirls ATX will host its second event:

If you're interested in learning (or teaching) and you can be in Austin that weekend, applications are open now:

And if you're not in Austin, get involved wherever you are. Django is being taught to women around the world, and if there's not a class in your area, what are you waiting for?