Offering everyone an exposure to the world of digital and data while creating a safe community & platform for collaboration is what Yvonne strongly believes is important. Yvonne Onyinye, Gitgirl’s director of programs is a reserved youth in her 20s advocating for female representation in tech roles across all industries.
In June, Yvonne founded something between the two extremes of struggling with self-pace learning and the high tuition of a computer science degree and called it Gitgirl. Even better, it’s a women-focused organisation building and fostering a tech talent pipeline that reflects the gender-inclusion of communities where Gitgirl operates and the global Gitgirl community. The program offers 12-24 weeks of full-time/online, intensive instruction (plus pre-work) “designed to turn you into a web developer or data analyst” for a $300 tuition fee.
Getting the ladies to love coding first.
“Breaking down the stereotypes around being a female software developer is important. Teaching the ladies that the interest can start from small tasks as building a personal website with a simple site builder – everyone wants their own website these days”, Yvonne explains.
Making it about communication.
You might not think you’d be a good programmer because you’re not good at math. Gitgirl wants to change that. “It’s about communicating clearly,” Yvonne says. “Just like writing and art. So if you see them more as a practice of expression, it’s easier to learn it. It’s not about math or science or anything like that.”
To drive home the idea that much of coding is about breaking problems into smaller steps and creating compositions, the school exposes students to other skills that fall into a similar pattern. So far its students take origami, complex lego, and yoga classes.
Working in teams.
Bringing students together not only opens up the opportunity to learn code for people with different types of learning styles, but, Yvonne argues, is the equivalent of teaching someone who knows how to swing a hammer how to build a house. Or teaching someone who knows how to play guitar how to play in a band. Knowing the language is only the first step to becoming a good programmer. It is also important that women support other women and lift each other up through the process.
For the first month – the bootcamp phase, students complete about 100 hours of prerequisite coursework–resources cobbled together from sites such as Code School and Treehouse–intended to get the “hammer swinging” skills out of the way. From there, the instruction is as project-based as possible.
Focusing on practical skills.
“Learning to code in 12-24 weeks isn’t the same thing as learning computer science. Gitgirl’s students won’t be writing Google’s algorithms or programming NASA’s next launch right after graduation. The goal is a solid understanding of Java Script that allows them to work as entry-level front-end developers or SQL & Pyhthon for the data analysts”, Yvonne adds.
Gitgirl’s fees are subsidised because the organisation is on a social impact mission to have more women in tech.