‘Rails Girls’, a worldwide movement that aims to bridge the gender divide in technology and teach women how to code, was recently held in Galway. The event consisted of workshops which provided a first approach to web development and software development.
Over 130 women from across Ireland attended ‘Rail Girls’, which was opened by Councillor Frank Fahy, Deputy Mayor of Galway City. Mayor Fahy stressed the importance of such an initiative for the Ireland workforce. Introduction to web application development, programming and architecture design were given by: Gerry Kavanagh, Master Engineer at LM Ericsson; Stefania Farrugia, Software Developer at Fintrax; and Emily Castles, Web Developer at Red Hills Software and co-organiser of Rails Girls Dublin.
Speakers at the event included: Ana Maria Valarezo, Senior Account Manager at Zend Technologies; Yuwei Lin, Lecturer at Salford University; Debian Women, programme co-founder; Alanna Kelly, mobile game application developer and founder of the Galway Game Jam; and Matteo Collina, PhD student at University of Bologna.
At the end of the Rails Girls Galway workshop, each participant had designed and implemented a web application, were able to enter information, edit and delete them, visualise their addresses on a Google Map and upload their pictures.
Myriam Leggieri, PhD student with the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) at NUI Galway, said: “Women tend to hold back and the reasons that keep women from entering IT are numerous. Mainly the same stereotype that depicts boys playing with cars and girls playing with dolls, applies in Computer Science. Only the 25% of Information and Technology (IT) jobs are held by women; only 11% of the Fortune 500 companies have women executives and only 5% of tech start-ups are owned by women.”
“At the same time, research shows that groups with greater diversity to solve problems better and faster than homogeneous groups; they are more efficient and more experimental. Also women have demonstrated to positively influence growth and efficiency, women-operated, venture-backed companies have 12% higher revenues than the average, and women entrepreneurs begin with about 1/8 of the funding of male-owned ventures. Consequently, the IT gender gap seems to deserve attention”, continued Myriam.
Dr John Breslin, NUI Galway Lecturer and founding member of boards.ie and StreamGlider Inc., provided funding for the event through the company he founded, Technology Voice, which he introduced at the workshop. Further funding was provided by NUI Galway’s DERI, Intercom and CISCO.
‘Rails Girls’ workshops are non-profit worldwide phenomena with the first event, launched by Linda Liukas and Karri Saarinen, held in Helsinki in 2010.