Group photo of coders

Free UK coding groups for women

Image: Mums In Technology coding class

Here is a current list of UK coding groups that help women learn to code, ordered alphabetically and by region. The barrier to entry has been lowered and you now have no reason not to pursue your coding dreams!

As you can see, there are many groups, all of different sizes, skill-level and coding area, so take your time to browse for the best ones for you. Don’t take too long though – some application deadlines are coming up very soon!

UK-wide groups

Name: codebar
Location: London, Brighton, Cambridge, Birmingham, Manchester, Bournemouth, Belfast
Twitter: @codebar
Founder: Despo Pentara
Website: codebar.io
Their aim is to bridge the diversity gap in coding. You can go along if you are from a minority group. They run free weekly sessions at various locations around London. You just book a place, and turn up with your website project for help from experienced developers. There’s also free pizza! Sessions are very busy and you need to sign up to their mailing list to get on to new sessions when they are announced.

Name: Code First: Girls
Location: various local chapters
Twitter: @CodeFirstGirls
Founder: Alice Bentinck and Matt Clifford
Website: codefirstgirls.org.uk
I’m biased, but my favourite coding group is Code First: Girls. They aim to increase the number of women in tech by lowering the barriers to entry through teaching free coding courses. They offer courses of varying lengths (some six weeks, others eight) in varying degrees of difficulty, in coding languages HTML/CSS, Ruby and Python. They really are a fantastic group, and as an alumna myself I would strongly recommend applying. You have to be either a current university student, within two years of having graduated or under 25 but they are extending their offering, so watch this space! They also run lots of free networking and career events relating to tech that fill up quickly, so sign up to their mailing list!

Name: Django Girls
Twitter: @djangogirls
Location: UK-wide (including Oxford, London, Manchester, Belfast, Cardiff, Coventry, Edinburgh)
Founder: Ola Sendecker
Website: djangogirls.org
Django is an open source web framework based on the programming language Python. Django Girls is a crash course that is aimed at total beginners, so NO PRIOR EXPERIENCE NEEDED, woohoo! You don’t need to know anything about programming, they just expect you to bring your own laptop and be able to commit to an all-day workshop (the next one is on Thursday September 15th in Cardiff). It’s worth subscribing to them so you don’t miss the next event being held in your area, although this may not be for a while.

Name: Pyladies
Location: Dublin, London, Edinburgh
Twitter: @PyLadiesLondon
Website: pyladies.com
Meetup: Edinburgh: http://www.meetup.com/PyLadiesEdinburgh, London: http://www.meetup.com/pyladieslondon/
A super-cute group devoted to Python-lovers! The Pyladies are a group of female developers worldwide who love the Python programming language. You can come into contact with experienced developers and meet with other like-minded women who are professional programmers or want to learn Python.

Name: #techmums
Location: UK-wide
Twitter: @TechmumsHQ
Founder: Sue Black OBE
Website: techmums.co
#techmums aims to give mums the skills they need to be professionally successful and teaches a variety of digital skills, including app and web design, and Ruby programming. It aims to help mums stop being afraid of technology and build their confidence. You need to sign up for more information about their courses. Inspiring founder and computer scientisit Sue Black has been awarded an OBE, and is the author of the fastest crowd-funded book of all time, about saving Bletchley Park (the UK World War II centre for decrypting enemy messages).

London groups

Name: Founders & Coders
Twitter: @founderscoders
Founder: Dan Sofer
Website: foundersandcoders.com
Meetup: http://www.meetup.com/founderscoders/
Founders & Coders runs a full-time, no-fee coding bootcamp. They also run a number of meetups for people who are interested in their course, who want to learn more about programming, or who want help with their startup projects. They are open to both men and women.

Name: Ladies of Code (formerly Ladies Who Code)
Twitter: @ladiesofcode
Founders: Angie Maguire and Natalia Ines
Website: ladiesofcode.com
Meetup: http://www.meetup.com/Ladies-of-Code-UK/
They’re an 2000+ international community of female developers at all levels of experience. They get together on a monthly basis either for coding sessions or for coding talks and workshops. You don’t have to be a proper techie to join but this group is focused more at professional coders, although they are open and inclusive so anyone can go along to the meetups. They’re relaunching in June so check back on their website in a few weeks.

Name: Mums in Technology
Twitter: @MumsinTech
Founder: June Angelides
Website: mumsintechnology.co.uk
They are a pop-up coding company for mums. Their courses run for six weeks and are not free, but this group is included as places are heavily subsidised by their corporate partners and they are specifically focused on teaching mums to learn digital skills for business. All of the courses are in between the school run and child friendly so that mums don’t have to choose between babies and digitally upskilling. They are certainly worth checking out if you are a mum interested in technology looking for your next career move or perhaps returning to the professional world. They even bring their babies to meetings, which is a lot of fun! Applications for June close on 27 May, so hurry.

Name: Node Girls
Twitter: @nodegirls_LDN
Website: nodegirls.io
This group teaches Node.js to women for free, is run by volunteers and they are a female-only team! Node.js is an area of software development that uses elements of JavaScript and is popular for its method of executing code. It is used by many large corporate companies including LinkedIn and Netflix.

Name: Rails Girls
Twitter: @railsgirls_ldn
Location: London
Website: railsgirls.london
Rails Girls is a global nonprofit initiative that aims to teach women to programme. They run lots of free workshops, but they’ve got their next London event coming up on 24-25 June. It handily fits in around your working day and they’ve got a super happy, inclusive atmosphere. Massive amounts of enthusiasm needed. You can still make their summer course as the closing date is 16 June. Hurry – apply now!

Name: R-Ladies
Twitter: @RLadiesLondon
Website: http://www.meetup.com/R-Ladies-Coding-Club-London/
This is a meetup focused on programming in R, which is a language and environment used in statistical computing and graphics – basically used in data analysis! This area of programming is probably going to be a bit more technical than your average amateur coder is looking for, but if you want to learn R you should definitely check them out!

Name: Women Hack for Nonprofits
Twitter: @WHFNP
Location: North London
Founders: Vinita Rathi and Nandhini Narasimhan
Website: womenhackfornonprofits.com
This is a group of women who work with nonprofits to provide free open source software for social causes. The way to get involved is generally to volunteer, and either learn tech skills or teach them. Sign up on their website and you will be invited to their Slack channel (Slack is an integrated communication platform for teams). Joining Women Who Hack for Nonprofits a great way to gain real-world experience and build your portfolio, learn completely new skills, or volunteer the skills you have to help others.

Name: Women Who Code
Twitter: @WWCLondon
Website: womenwhocode.com/london
Meetup: http://www.meetup.com/Women-Who-Code-London/
This is a US-based coding group which now has a London chapter. They are aimed at providing coding talks and workshops for professional women, in order to inspire them to excel in technology careers. Women Who Code London are VERY popular, so I recommend signing up to their newsletter to make sure you hear about new events as soon as they’re announced!

Northern groups

Name: CodeUp Manchester
Location: Manchester, Stockport, Sheffield
Twitter: @codeupuk
Founder: Claire Dodd
Website: codeupmcr.co.uk
This group is a free mentoring program for men and women who would like to learn coding. Once a month, CodeUp UK provides a workspace for people with no programming skills to come and learn the basics, with mentors available to answer questions, help you with your projects and give advice. Sessions are also suitable for those who have basic skills already and want to develop, and intermediate or advanced coders who want to go along to a space where everyone is immersed in code! Unmissable. They also have a fantastically useful resource directory for learning coding.

Name: CodeUp Huddersfield
Location: Huddersfield
Twitter: @codeupuk
Founder: Claire Dodd
Website: https://madlab.org.uk/groups/codeup-huddersfield/
This is a branch of CodeUp Manchester and takes place on the third Monday of every month. Attendees can learn digital skills such as writing an app for a smartphone or creating a website for fun.

Name: Northcoders
Location: Manchester
Twitter: @northcoders
Website: northcoders.com
The North’s technology sector is booming and the demand for developers well outstrips supply. Northcoders are unique in their promise to get their alumni into employment of 26k or above, or return their fees in full. They are partnered with businesses to streamline the progression from coder to professional software engineer. Their 13-week JavaScript engineering course normally costs several thousand pounds, but they pledged on International Women’s Day to run a sponsored #womenintech cohort in 2016. It starts later this year and you can apply NOW – the closing date is soon! This is a pretty amazing opportunity, but you do need to have some level of familiarity with JavaScript and it’s not for complete novices – though they also run a helpful beginners’ course to get you up to scratch for the main bootcamp!

 

Next steps

Don’t stop here. There are many, many more free coding groups not just focused on women that you can join, so have a hunt around on Meetup and, of course, search engines and Twitter. This list is always expanding, so please let me know in the comments or by emailing me if there are any groups you think I should add to this amazingly inspiring collection!

Most of these groups make no profit and so they are usually funded by donations, either through developers volunteering their skills, companies and schools loaning their spaces free of charge, or through funding. If you can give back to help any organisations that have benefited you or women like you, please consider helping them in return for the kickass work they do to help women build their coding and tech skills.

I strongly recommend heading over to Jenny Brennan’s website for an evolving list of current tech meetups.

To work with me on a freelance basis and have blog posts written for your company, please contact me so we can talk about your requirements.

About the author

Catherine Heath

I’m a B2B freelance tech blogger and content writer. I have a thing for psychology, diversity, tech and startups. Learning to code.

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14 Comments

  • Hi Catherine, I am an Precision Irrigation Designer and I would like to talk, to women who are interested in abstract technical problems in the field of farming, such as diverse ways to irrigate farms using the latest in precision software. Also very interested in code of all forms. I also agree that psychology plays a major role in the development of all women, wishing to further themselves, in technical careers. What kind of geeky concepts are you talking of?

    • Hi Alex, wow that sounds very impressive – I don’t have much knowledge of farming, I’m afraid. I am interested in coding, psychology, tech, startups and related issues. I also like comics, games and digital. I’m currently developing myself as an advocate of women in tech by blogging about it, and going to lots of events/joining groups 🙂

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  • Very informative blog, which really helped me find a route into coding.

    I’ve just signed up for a meet up with Founders and Coders. Unfortunately the community course with Coding for Girls seems to be full already.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Eva, That’s great news! The Code First: Girls courses run twice a year so make sure you follow them on Twitter or sign up to their newsletter to be informed about the next one as soon as it opens 🙂

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