Seven female-friendly tech organisations come together to declare We ARE Here

19 Nov 2013

Ireland Girl Geek Dinners, Coding Grace, DigiWomen, AskATon, Women in Technology and Science (WITS), PyLadies Dublin and CoderDojo Girls have teamed up to plan events that reflect their collective female-friendly ethos and encourage diversity in tech.

The idea first came from Christina Lynch, organiser of Girl Geek Dinners Ireland, a community for women working, studying or interested in STEM subjects, and the other groups were eager to jump on board. Two distinct events will stem from this collaboration, the first happening on Thursday, 28 November, called We ARE Here.

Where are the women in tech?

“The first event is meant to answer the question ‘Where are the women in tech?’ and highlight the seven groups involved,” explains Andreea Wade, spokesperson for the event and also the founder of AskATon, a female-friendly knowledge-sharing event series focused on tech and digital.

WITS is an active forum for women in STEM chaired by Sadhbh McCarthy. DigiWomen is a newly founded company that focuses on women, technology and entrepreneurship led by Pauline Sargent. Coding Grace is a group of developers providing female-friendly workshops and events co-founded by Vicky Lee, who is also the founder of PyLadies Dublin, the first Irish chapter of PyLadies, which brings together female developers working in Python.

CoderDojo Girls, who joined at a later stage, is a free weekly girl-friendly CoderDojo hosted at Dublin City University (DCU) through organisers Sarah Doran and Niambh Scullion.

These groups are evidence that women and girls are actively working and engaging in the tech community, but, Wade says, “We need more women in these tech entrepreneurial spaces and we ultimately need more diversity.”

Making women feel welcome

Wade believes that groups like this have an industry-wide impact and that providing a female-friendly first step opens up the gates for more women to enter the tech space. “This is what happened after Enterprise Ireland announced a first funding round for women only; the next time they had a mixed-gender funding round, more women participated. This is also what is happening in CoderDojo: more girls are participating in mixed CoderDojo classes after CoderDojo Girls was established,” she explains.

“We need to create role models. Passive inclusion is not enough, we have to keep saying ‘Come into this space’ until it will become normality and those once a minority will just walk in by themselves,” she adds.

The collaboration’s second event will be an all-day ‘un-conference’ around the topic of failure, providing a platform for women to discuss their failings as milestones on the road to success.

But first, We ARE Here intends to take a step towards further diversity in tech and the event is open to all genders, providing an opportunity to find out about the different women in tech groups that can help support entrepreneurs and businesses.

“We want people to know that we exist. Men and women. We want them to join us, with ideas, or because they need help or they want to help. But what we really want is to make change happen,” says Wade.

“We want to create a community where no matter who you are, you can identify with someone.”

Women Invent Tomorrow is Silicon Republic’s year-long campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.