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Video The Rails Girls Are Coming to a City Near You (Video) 162

So far, the Rails Girls have groups in cities ranging from Warsaw to Wellington, with U.S. gatherings in Washington D.C., Charlotte NC, San Francisco CA, and... let's make it easy: Here's a map. OMG! They're everywhere! Actually, mostly Europe, being as they started in Finland, same as the Leningrad Cowboys and a popular computer operating system. But they're spreading like mad. Would you believe the reason one of the two founders originally got interested in Ruby on Rails was because she wanted to make a fan page for American politician Al Gore? Our interviewee, Magda (from Rails Girls Warsaw), swears this is true. She also tells us about their upcoming Washington D.C. workshop on June 13th, 2013, in conjunction with the June 14-15 RubyNation event. Sounds like fun, doesn't it. Maybe you need more of this kind of fun where you live, eh? If there isn't a Rails Girls group near you, maybe you should start one and help more women and girls get into programming. This is the Rails Girls' goal. Any particular ages? Not really. And their workshops are all free of charge: "You just need to be excited!"

Robin: So this is Magda. And behind Magda, (if you could move, so we can see it), there is a Rails Girls poster. So there is a group called Rails Girls. Magda is in Poland. And she is going to tell us about Rails Girls, Magda how did it start?

Magda: Well, the Rails Girls started when Linda Liukas who actually is a Finn, she made a fan page of her young hero Al Gore, and she loved the experience of creating something for the web, creating a web page, and she decided to share that experience with others.

Robin: Okay, wait, who was this hero?

Magda: Al Gore.

Robin: The American politician?

Magda: Yes.

Robin: Okay, so how did Rails Girls get started for real?

Magda: Yeah, that was the actual thing, that she did this website and then decided to create the workshop to teach more women to code, to share this experience of accomplishing something. In digital manner.

Robin: What do you mean, did it start out online, or as a

Magda: No, she actually gathered some friends and some people who wanted to participate, women to be exact, in the company in the middle of Helsinki and she taught them, worker friends to code.

Robin: Okay, so they started coding in Ruby on Rails.

Magda: Yes.

Robin: And it spread. Obviously to Poland at least. And to Germany.

Magda: Yeah. So the thing was that she made this workshop once and then for a second time, and then decided to share all the materials in open source, almost open source way, and people just volunteered and decided to do a similar thing in their cities.

Robin: What do you mean almost open source?

Magda: Because Rail Girls has a well, brand and logotype and all those kinds of things, you actually cannot take the logotype for yourself and do whatever with it, you actually need to sign up for our list, say that you are going to do the workshop and then you can do everything. But you need to inform us that you are actually doing this.

Robin: Okay. There are a whole lot of open source licenses that are kind of like that, yeah, close, you are right. So how many countries is Rail Girls in, to your knowledge?

Magda: Actually, I cannot tell you country-wise because we don’t have that kind of catalog but I can tell you city-wise. We have almost 75 cities now.

Robin: Around the world?

Magda: Yes, around the world. All the continents.

Robin: All the continents?

Magda: Yeah, without Antarctica.

Robin: Okay, yeah, sooner or later, I am just going to tell you that I used to say Slashdot has readers everywhere except Antarctica. And then when a loyal reader said, guess what, I am a ____3:27 south for a year. So that is no longer true. It is only a matter of time, one of your members will go there.

Magda: Yeah, I am hoping.

Robin: How about you? How did you get involved?

Magda: Well, I got involved in Ruby generally because it was very simple. My friend just coded in Ruby and I just admired him and felt he was a good programmer, so when he told me well you should try some Ruby, I just tried Ruby and because the Ruby coding is so open and ____4:01 and really cares about women and gender ratio in our community, they really quickly informed me about the workshops and when I saw the idea I just wanted to have it in Poland, Warsaw, Poland.

Robin: So you helped instigate Rails Girls and more Ruby in Poland.

Magda: Yeah, in Warsaw, for that matter, yeah.

Robin: Okay, how about elsewhere in Poland?

Magda: Yeah, we have Krakow that actually held the first workshop in Poland, I was there to see, there was Linda, Linda Liukas who created the workshops and she ran some of the exercises during the workshop in Krakow, so I went to Krakow and then came back to Warsaw to put my workshop on. And then during our Warsaw workshop, one of the participants decided to make ____4:59 and then it spread to Poznan. So we have four cities now.

Robin: Okay, now I heard that you are coming here. That is to Florida, USA soon. Is that so?

Magda: Well, actually not to Florida, I am coming to Washington probably.

Robin: Okay, are you going to help try to start a Ruby on Rails or Rails Girls thing there?

Magda: I think you might have yeah, we have Rails Girls in Washington DC already, but if there will be a workshop going on, I will definitely come there.

Robin: I’ll bet that they’ll have a workshop because you are coming?

Magda: Yeah, I hope so. I will contact them.

Robin: Alright so let’s say, I was a girl, a woman, which I am not obviously, (the beard is a tipoff), and I wanted to get involved with Rails Girls, how would I do it?

Magda: Would you like to do some Rails work or you’ll learn how to code, or would you like to do a workshop in your city?

Robin: I don’t know. What should I start with?

Magda: Okay. So you should start with going to our website and seeing if you have a workshop already in your city, because it is possible that you have it already since we are in 75 cities now. So if there is not, you definitely should contact us and decide to have a workshop for yourself.

Robin: Okay, now the beard is a tipoff that I am not a woman. Did I see on your website, that I can only do it, if I find a female person to accompany me?

Magda: Well, probably, but that’s not the general rule. We have just this really – well Will’s relationship will be counter let’s say, the cities are not having the very same workshop. We have different rules for different cities. People are giving their workshop their, you know, flavor and the rules for one of the cities could be that you need a female companion to be here, to be on the workshop but actually you could get into the workshop without having a female friend with you.

Robin: Okay, so what about the general spread of Ruby? What languages do you work with for instance now?

Magda: Well, I don’t work in Ruby right now, sadly. Yeah, I worked in Ruby for a year, but now I have more contacts with PHP and Java. And I do all of the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, general code and stuff.

Robin: So basically web programming?

Magda: Yeah, I do web programming.

Robin: May I assume that most Rails Girls members do web programming or at least some?

Magda: Well, the participants of a Rails Girls actually don’t do programming at all in the beginning, we actually have participants who are from various backgrounds who studied law, who studied culture, who studied nutrition or everything else, anything, and they just wanted to see how people like to code, they heard about the workshop and they wanted to try, and we see the Rails Girls, and if they like it, if they like coding, they just pursue their careers in most generally, web programming.

Robin: So I know some people who track wages for programmers and sysadmins. Things like do Linux credentials get you more money, so one thing they have been saying is that, people who are like you saying coming in as lawyers and the what not, not about programming, learning to program - they call this hybrids, they are people like for instance, someone who has an accounting degree and can also do some web programming and do like SQL sequel work, is the most valuable person at least for most businesses.

Magda: Oh okay. I wasn’t aware of this.

Robin: Yeah. So what you are saying is your people are just the smartest ones out there, you know, whether you know it or not.

Magda: Well, we actually have participants from slightly other group. Well, they are people who like their accountant jobs and just would like to learn some coding too, and say, well being a coder accountant, but we have lot of stay at home moms who have trouble getting back to work, and they tell us the possibility of just coding from home is the best option for them. So our people who just went into, made a bad decision and went into this life that made them to not have a decent job, their degrees didn’t helped them to get a decent job, and they just decide to change it for something better, well paying, better.

Robin: So Rails Girls, is there any help within the group as far as finding work?

Magda: Yeah, actually all the local groups have mailing groups, and if you are having problems with getting work you definitely can contact them. In Warsaw, we have this case where after the workshop actually a lot of companies contact us just to get connected to our participants, because they are looking very hard for new programmers.

Robin: Really?

Magda: Yeah. We have this lack of programmers, Ruby programmers in Warsaw, Poland, so every hand is very precious for us.

Robin: So wait a minute, if you are an American, and you wanted to learn a new language, and you wanted to work as a Ruby on Rails programmer, go to Warsaw.

Magda: Oh, I would definitely do this. Well, you would get a nice wage, you follow wage?

Robin: Wage, yeah, pay.

Magda: So you will get nice pay, you will get to see Poland and see places. The problem is that our currency well is slightly worth than yours is. Like three times worth. So you won’t get back to States and be rich suddenly.

Robin: Well, that’s okay but you can live there, and get a motor scooter, you can get an apartment, you can go out and drink beer, and better beer than in the United States, and that sort of thing, right?

Magda: Well, I don’t know about the beer, because I don’t actually drink the beer in the United States somehow, but you can have a great time in Poland being a Ruby programmer.

Robin: Okay now here’s something else, I don’t know if you guys have thought if there are any Rails Girls groups, that some years ago, I went to Saudi Arabia, where all the women are stay-at-home moms by law, and they can’t work really hardly with men, and have to wear a garbage bag, you know with the eye slits, terrible, so they are there. Do you have any groups there yet?

Magda: Well, we don’t actually have any groups there yet. But I hope really that one will just see this interview and decide to start up a group in Saudi Arabia.

Robin: Yeah, or any of the other Arab Muslim countries. Hello ladies we are looking at you. Yes we are.

Magda: Yeah, there are no groups in well, Muslim countries so you are most welcome to join us and start a workshop for your own.

Robin: And there, you can keep the men out, in fact, you’d have to. And you could learn, and you could help each other get work.

Magda: Yes, so it is a great option for women, if you don’t have this many possibilities, well working from home would be great and the Rails Girls workshop is a great way to just learn to code to start learning to code.

Robin: What about the social aspect? Does that come in to play at all?

Magda: Well it does. Because after the workshop we have this group we have mailing group and we have meetings, so we are keeping ties together, so we actually really help each other to learn and to grow.

Robin: Do you get together, do you get together and go out or anything like that?

Magda: Well, we actually get together and start coding. Meetings about coding.

Robin: Then after coding, you got to eat, anything like that?

Magda: Yeah, we have hangouts, obviously, yeah, in the middle of every workshop we have this little spark-up party for everyone to meet and greet, and we have them bubblies there and just relax and meet each other.

Robin: It sounds like a great group. What we need now is I think after Rails Girls, we need Rails Guys right?

Magda: Yeah, but actually in Poland you have like both of the groups being Rails Guys yeah, so you have them everywhere.

Robin: So what we should do then is concentrate on spreading Rails Girls?

Magda: Yeah, I think spreading Rails Girls is just really valuable for women but actually I think it is combining the men’s world and the women’s world in the coding environment is very important.

Robin: About once a year in the United States we talk about is how few young girls go into science and technology careers. Can Rails Girls help with that either directly or just by being an example?

Magda: So we are helping young women directly by just getting them to the workshops and teaching them to program just before they go into their college and choose their college degree, oh sorry you don’t call it degree, how do you call it graduation or something?

Robin: No we often call it college degree yes. Correct?

Magda: Oh okay, so people ____16:04 actually. Yay for me. Should I just? Wait because my tongue is not working now.

Robin: Understood.

Magda: So we are helping women young women directly by getting them into workshops and teaching them how to code just before they choose their college degree. So they have an option to see how cool is coding and just going into IT as a new college degree. And we are helping them indirectly by just showing the example, that you can do this, if you want to, but ultimately it is your choice, and we would like just all women to have this choice. They don’t have to go into programming if they don't – just don’t like it, the main thing is for them to be not afraid, to just try and see if it is fun for them or not.

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The Rails Girls Are Coming to a City Near You (Video)

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