Did you know that the first computer programmer, Ada Lovelace, was a woman? And what an impressive woman, one can say. Even in her time she realised that these machines can have a function larger than calculations. All before 1850.

Ada Lovelace’s notes were labelled alphabetically from A to G. In note G, she describes an algorithm for the Analytical Engine to compute Bernoulli numbers [note: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, …, which was also a question in our application process]. It is considered to be the first ever published algorithm specifically tailored for implementation on a computer, and Ada Lovelace has often been cited as the first computer programmer for this reason.

Some developer tools like the cloud9 IDEshow references to her like “Thank you Ada Lovelace”, a little nudge to look into her story.

Nowadays, there is a bias towards gender in programming, which is an interesting topic in Lieke Boon’s talk.

Diversity in IT

More diverse teams are proven to be more creative, innovative and effective. I observed this myself during my Hackathon experience at a campus party, where up to 8 challenges from different fields were running parallel. The successful teams, who really built something new during the challenge, did not consist of only male programmers yet had a healthy gender mix.
Another point is that it’s a huge loss of talent if one half of all possible programming talents are reluctant to develop (pun intended) technical skills in spite of how much they are needed in the world nowadays. And of course, opportunities for women are wasted. Of the 21 participants in our most recent 9-month program, only three are female. All three are however very talented and a huge addition to the course. Farah, one of our youngest talents, said after the first two months were over, that her way of thinking had really changed and she liked it. When her friends tell her about their problems, she approaches them completely differently now and also her friends like her new way of thinking.

We want to do what we can to encourage women to have a go at a STEM education. We were happy when two out of four of the TU Wien students who took part in our Harvard CS50 there were female, and that, through us, they were able to have an introduction to programming. This seems to be a general problem in tertiary education, for instance, at the TU WIEN, only slightly more than 10% of informatics BA graduates are female. It’s a difficult issue, and the TU WIEN is aware of it. (source: http://www.informatik.tuwien.ac.at/frauenfoerderung/Frauenfoerderkonzept_fakInf_20160131.pdf)

Sometimes we get visits at our programming school from German course groups or integration organisations. In these cases, our participants are always happy to show them around. Just recently our female coders gave a group a workshop. We hope that with initiatives like this we are able to help provide non-stereotypical role models in tech.

What we can do as a coding school is to take small steps in the right direction, and we can see that this is appreciated. A few tech company CEOs have even explicitly requested if they can offer internship positions to female candidates. It seems that the industry has noticed the potential gain here.

r{c} Role Models

We are incredibly happy with what our female participants are adding to our course and its atmosphere. We will continue to encourage women to apply to our program. We believe that coding experience can be the stepping stone to a life of freedom, creativity and self-confidence. Our experience shows that those who do actually dare to apply, surpass all expectations by far. If you’re a woman and considering applying, please do so. You will not regret it!

This said, Happy Women’s Day! May women continue, and be further encouraged, to add valuable insight and talent to working environments as well as help increase productivity in companies all around the world.

We dedicate this article to our three essential women: Thank you Farah, Nisreen and Sarah!

AutorInnen: Alexander Hartveld, Harriet Smith, Daryl Chou, Philipp Emberger