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!
Location: London, Brighton, Cambridge, Birmingham, Manchester, Bournemouth, Belfast
Founder: Despo Pentara
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
Founder: Alice Bentinck and Matt Clifford
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
Location: UK-wide (including Oxford, London, Manchester, Belfast, Cardiff, Coventry, Edinburgh)
Founder: Ola Sendecker
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.
Location: Dublin, London, Edinburgh
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.
Founder: Sue Black OBE
#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).
ClojureBridge aims to increase diversity within the Clojure community by offering free, beginner-friendly Clojure programming workshops for underrepresented groups in tech. It aims to increase diversity of experience and collective skillset in the functional programming community. The London workshops are aimed at those who identify as women, transgender and non-binary and strive to provide a safe, welcoming space for attendees.
Name: Founders & Coders
Founder: Dan Sofer
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)
Founders: Angie Maguire and Natalia Ines
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
Founder: June Angelides
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
Name: Rails Girls
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!
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
Location: North London
Founders: Vinita Rathi and Nandhini Narasimhan
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
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!
Name: CodeUp Manchester
Location: Manchester, Stockport, Sheffield
Founder: Claire Dodd
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: freeCodeCamp MCR
Founder: James Davenport
This is a weekly coding group for people of all skills levels to get together and work through the free online tutorials on freeCodeCamp. Attendees are a mixture of absolutely coding newbies to professional developers, and you will be able to get help on your projects. The atmosphere is informal and welcoming. Don’t miss out!
Name: CodeUp Huddersfield
Founder: Claire Dodd
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: School of Code
This is the only free bootcamp that I’ve found available in the midlands, and was started by Chris Meah who is has partnered with companies to offer 16 places for free. Applications are closed for 2017 but keep an eye out for next year’s cohort. This course is not limited to women but aims at increasing diversity in the tech industry through teaching different types of people to code.
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.
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