Events

Women’s Circle DevC Nairobi….. are female-only developer meetups necessary?

I attended the Women’s Circle DevC event at ihub Nairobi on the 17th of this month, which was quite interesting to say the least.

 

 

iHub, Nairobi.

Topics of discussion included stories from women who have been in the software development industry for quite a while and I must say, I was inspired, and talks about some commonly used resources in the developer’s world; React, a javascript library for building user interfaces, React Native, a framework for building native apps (applications that have been developed for use on specific platforms or devices) and GitHub, a tool that allows you to keep track of all versions of your work and collaborate with others, or as one of the speakers called it, “Instagram for code”.

Devs at Women’s Circle DevC.

 

Towards the end, something sparked up a very involving discussion. Are female only developer meetups necessary? The best way to come up with an answer is by thinking about why they are held in the first place.

Developer meetups are held very often here in Nairobi and quite a number of people attend them, unfortunately, ladies are very few every time. Organizers of these meetups have always wondered why this is the case. Is word not spreading widely enough? Are ladies not interested in meeting other people in the same industry, or could it be due to the feeling of intimidation that comes from being in an industry whose majority occupants are male? My money is on the latter.

I’d be lying if I said I am not intimidated by being a girl in the software development world. Just like may female devs out there, I always wonder whether I am good enough, whether I should ask question and risk sounding “stupid”, whether I should go on, or just quit while I still have time… and the emotional and mental turmoil goes on… however, I think the biggest mistake is to let all this show. I mean why would anyone take us seriously if we do not believe in ourselves?

During the discussion that happened on the 17th, the argument that caught my attention was that female devs need a “safe space” or “safe haven” to express themselves. I think because we believe that, then it is a sign we do not fully believe in ourselves as developers, and we are stereotyping ourselves in a way in this world that is starting to warm up to female developers.

Women started programming as early as in the 19th century with the pioneer being Ada Lovelace, the first person (notice I said person and not woman) to write the world’s first machine algorithm for an early computing machine. Someone had to be the first, and it happened to be a woman. She worked alongside Charles Babbage in inventing the Analytical Engine.

Ada, Countess of Lovelace.

Another pioneer of computer programming is Grace Hooper, a computer scientist in the early 1900’s. She invented one of the first compiler related tools, popularized the idea of machine independent programming languages which led to the development of COBOL, a high level programming language that is still in use almost a century later.

Computer Scientist and Navy rear Admiral, Grace Hooper.

Some women have also risen to leadership roles of giant tech companies, like Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprises from November 2017 to February 2018 and Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo from July 2012 to June 2017.

Between the 1800’s and now, very many women have left a mark in the computing world, and have faced the same challenges and worse than we have. But if they did not take and own their stand alongside their male counterparts, then no one would be talking or learning about them now. Maybe even programming would not be as we know it now.

Female programmers need to let intimidation be what drives them to leave their comfort zones and believe they are equal to male developers, and I don’t think that will ever happen as it should if we accept to be a stereotype that mostly exists in our heads.

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained” -Marie Curie.

Cheerio 😛

GET INSIDE INTEL

 

There’s something about an event that gets people excited, from its infant planning phase to when it’s finally happening. Maybe it’s the fact that no one can accurately predict  how the day will turn out, how the weather will be, or if it will be interesting or not. Or maybe it’s the fact that a whole day has been set aside just for one specific reason that people are looking forward to.

 

I recently attended a Get Inside Intel event that was on the 11th of June 2016 at Africa Nazarene University.

 

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It was my second time but I was still excited because I’d get to interact with Intel technology again.

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One of the things that made the day really cool was the fact that everyone present had the chance to build whatever they wanted using Intel IoT technology (which happened to be my favorite part of the day actually). Actually, it was more like as soon as I lay my hands on the Intel Edison kit, I suddenly got all these cool ideas and wanted to try them all out at once, and I was not the only one excited about it.

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Working with Intel Edison and Galileo kits is not only fun, but it gives young minds the chance to become innovative, creative and come up with fun ways to try and bridge market gaps, or come up with solutions to some current problems around the world. So far, Intel has targeted learning institutions giving this opportunity to students and the fact that it’s fun and hands on makes it more captivating.

 

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That wasn’t the only segment of the day. Also, we got the chance to learn about how Intel RealSense technology is used to build immersive and intuitive applications, that include hand and finger tracking, facial analysis, speech recognition, augmented reality and 3D scanning.

 

One of us gave a brief overview of how RealSense is used to create games. I’m not much of a gamer myself but the fact that some games could actually be played without having to use any sort of controller was really cool.

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After the brief presentation there was an open session where guys came up with crazy and awesome ideas of the things they could do with RealSense. Imaginations were running wild.

And finally, there was the Intel XDK, which is a set of development tools that lets people create mobile and tablet applications using HTML 5 and JavaScript. Maybe when most people hear about creating functional applications the first thing that comes to mind is having lines and lines of code, what language one is supposed to use, making them shy away from even trying to build one in the first place. But with Intel XDK, it’s less tedious since it works with HTML 5 and JavaScript which are some of the least complicated coding languages. Any programmer, developer or even just any IT enthusiastic boy or girl would love seeing an app they’ve built being used and enjoyed by many people, and making it work among various Operating Systems. Actually, I don’t see why not make it something to do when you’re bored at home or in your room, when you don’t have a movie to watch, etc. or even a hobby.

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All the things that we get to do with technology these days are just endless, from as little as coding a “Hello World” program to programming a 10 foot crane to be able to perform its tasks reliably and efficiently without having to be manually controlled. Several students use Intel technologies for their projects. As much as projects take up most of our time since everyone would want a good grade from something they have been working on all semester, why not make it fun since you’re literally building something. According to me, most people like hands on stuff, something that gives them the chance to come up or build almost anything, and make changes along the way. For instance, kids love Lego toys, I personally played with them almost everyday of my childhood since I got to explore my imagination and then put it down for people and myself to see. I was always proud of myself whenever I built something.

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There were actually several Intel giveaways though it would have been cooler if it was  Intel device giveaways instead.

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Despite that I was very grateful I got to attend Get Inside Intel again and can’t wait for next time.

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