Woman-Focused Coding & Learning Initiative
This unique event draws women and those who identify as women or non binary to the Agile Alliance by making them aware of the organization and the practicality and importance of key technical practices. While many of our attendees have never heard of Agile, we are teaching the basics of Agile technical practices such as pairing and Test Driven Development. There are always references to Agile, though we spend no time teaching any specific framework. As this broader representation of humanity enters the Agile footing on a firm footing with the dominantly male membership, it necessarily, through it’s presence, both pushes and pulls a more humane and sustainable culture as it enters the community.
The key purpose of this initiative is to increase the diversity of Agile teams by helping individuals who identify as female build skills—both technical and sociotechnical—to enter, thrive, and excel on Agile teams.
Software development, including Agile software development, is a diversity-challenged endeavor. Yet software development has been a socioeconomic boon to those with the will and the means to learn how to build software well. Software developers who identify as female face a specific set of challenges in entering the field and finding collaborators and mentors. Coderetreats and Code Dojo’s provide a facilitation model which helps participants learn many of the software practices advocated in the Agile movement. It provides a mechanism for women to help other women enter the field. And, this program provides a woman-focused approach to learning software practices typical of successful Agile teams.
This Coderetreat program has been running intermittently for a year and a half. Our intention is to ensure a sustainable program of quarterly Codetreats in various locations in the Portland, Oregon area, expanding to Code Dojos as the audience builds, and expanding to other communities as we build out our model. Though this program is woman-focused, men and non-binaries are welcome to attend with the understanding that the culture of the event is focused on the software culture interests of women and non-binaries.
We have allied with AgilePDX in the last few months. We are partnered with Portland Women in Technology (pdxwit.org) for publicity and are working to formally expand our partnerships to Women Who Code and ChickTech(chicktech.org) in the near future.
We encourage networking among attendees during and after the event and point them to the AgilePDX Slack community as a means of staying in touch after the event. We find that many women and non-binaries are isolated on their software teams and organizations. Many do not feel comfortable speaking up for fear of “looking stupid,” and the Slack channel provides them a location for strategizing around workplace challenges or getting answers and pointers to answers.