Our latest Statement Maker, Kim Hamper, is the Columbus, Ohio chapter leader of Girl Develop It. Girl Develop It is one of few dedicated organizations who’s mission it is to diversify the computer science industry by encouraging and educating women and girls interested in website development and design.
Read below for what Kim has to say about Girl Develop It and how she personally entered the world of software development!
What is Girl Develop It?
Girl Develop It provides affordable and accessible events and classes to women who want to learn programming skills.
How many GDI chapters are there? Are there any overseas?
The number of chapters keeps on growing! Currently, we have 25 chapters across the United States and Canada with more new chapter applications being processed for cities in North America and beyond. It’s amazing to see how much Girl Develop It has grown since it was founded in 2010.
Were you always interested in website/software development and coding?
Many times I considered trying out coding. During one phase of college, I was sure I was going to minor in computer science (this was somewhere in between the Film Studies and French Language stages), but I never took a single computer science course! It wasn’t until 2011, after I received Build Your Own Website the Right Way as a present, that I finally got started.
How did you get started coding?
So, as I mentioned, I started learning HTML and CSS from the book Build Your Own Website the Right Way. I built a terrible/awesome website in bright orange with cats, and I was totally hooked. I put my tax return towards an online course on programming in PHP next, and just a few months later I started working towards a master’s degree in software engineering.
Was coding your first career path?
Nope! I eventually settled on biology for my college major, but still had a wide range of interests and no idea what I wanted to do after I graduated. I interned at a human rights non-profit and worked as a Quality Control Engineer (basically lots of analysis and statistics) post-graduation before moving back to Ohio and discovering software development.
What about website/software development keeps you interested? Why have you decided to do it for a living?
The main reason: it’s exciting to make something tangible and immediately useful to other people. You also never stop learning as a developer, which keeps things interesting. There’s so much that goes into creating applications and websites. Even if I’m having a more creative, less analytical day, I can focus on the design of an application, or I can nerd out on marketing concepts and improving the usability of an app. There are a lot of different roles you can jump into under the “developer” umbrella.
How did you get involved with GDI?
I had just moved to Columbus in 2011 and joined the Meetup group for Girl Develop It Columbus (GDIC). Jen Myers (our chapter founder) sent out a message that she was looking for an Assistant Organizer. I hadn’t been to a single GDIC event yet and I hadn’t coded anything except my fabulous bright orange website, but I thought, why not? To my surprise, Jen gave me the position!
How long have you been the Columbus, Ohio GDI Chapter Leader?
I’ve been the chapter leader since early 2013, so a little over a year now.
Why is it important that we have organizations, like GDI, that encourage women to enter the world of web design and development?
The ratio of women-to-men in computer science and developer positions has been decreasing since the 1980s (when, according to Wikipedia, it was 38%). Diversity in general in the technology field is incredibly low. Organizations like GDI are working to increase diversity and open the technology field to new people with a variety of backgrounds. Many of the women involved with GDIC either didn’t have access to formal computer science education or didn’t realize that computer science was an option for them in school.
How can someone interested in learning coding get involved with GDI? Who can sign up for GDI
Come drop by an event and say hi! We have a Hack Night once a month which is a great starting point for learning about coding and Girl Develop It. We also have other events like regular Code and Coffees, as well as our classes. Our events are generally beginner-friendly and open to all levels. Our next coding class is an introductory programming class (in Ruby) slated for June, and any adult can sign up for a GDI class. We are targeted at women, but men who are passionate about our mission statement are always welcome. We have scholarships available to women for classes if cost (usually $80 for a four-week, eight-hour class) is a barrier, and we can usually find an extra laptop if a student needs to borrow one.
Finally, we’re also looking for a co-chapter leader, and have a slew of other volunteer/teacher positions open. If someone reading is interested in getting involved, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Even if you’ve only made a really terrible/awesome bright orange website, I would love to hear from you.