How can a software developer continue to improve

Make the world a better place with code and education

Software development is a very important industry. But can we make the world a better place? And if so, how? In fact, we can do a lot to help!

The statistics say that in IT, unemployment is relatively low. Often the salary is also very good. However, some groups such as women, people with disabilities or different ethnic backgrounds are underrepresented in our industry. So not everyone has equal access to such a career.

But it's not just about: teams with a higher diversification can solve problems better. There are more views on the problem, and so the team looks at more ways to solve it. The software becomes more versatile in this way, and the team creates products that are of interest to broader layers or solve problems that a homogeneous group is not even aware of.

This is exactly where we can support everyone. By introducing more and different people to software development, we also benefit ourselves. You learn a lot about how to impart knowledge. You reflect on your own knowledge. And questions can make you see things from a completely different perspective. Knowledge transfer is one of the most important activities in our profession. And in the end, it's also fun to teach someone something.

There are many initiatives that organize meetings where people teach other people something. These initiatives exist throughout Germany and with different target groups.

children

Even children can be taught about programming. Some initiatives are:

  • CoderDojo offers children and young people between 7 and 17 years of age the opportunity to get started with programming. The specific design varies between the different dojos.
  • Devoxx4Kids conducts three workshops on Internet of Things, robotics and programming for different age groups.
  • The Hacker School is aimed at children between the ages of 11 and 18 with various courses.
  • The Teckids e.V. has various initiatives to introduce children to programming, among other things.
  • Jugend hackt is a program to promote young programmers in German-speaking countries with the motto "Improving the world with code".
  • The Calliope project aims to provide every schoolchild in Germany from the 3rd grade with playful access to the digital world. It offers hardware, software and other materials for this purpose.
  • CodeWeekEU has a lot of different offers - mostly for children.

Under-represented groups

As already mentioned, many groups are underrepresented in our industry. There are a few initiatives that aim to change that:

  • RailsGirls typically offers one-day workshops for women to get started with web development with Ruby on Rails. Among other things, they also organize the RailsGirls Summer of Code. There are also some impressive success stories.
  • Unicorns in Tech is a network for LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and inter people) in IT.
  • Refugees on Rails aims to teach Ruby on Rails to refugees.
  • The DjangoGirls have a similar offer as the Rails Girls with the Python web framework Django.
  • The ClojureBridge focuses on conveying the JVM-based functional programming language Clojure to underrepresented groups.
  • ScalaBridge offers workshops for women in the JVM programming language Scala.
  • The Women Who Go organize meetups for women who are interested in the Go programming language.
  • Informatica feminale is an international summer course for women in computer science.
  • CodeGirls in Leipzig offer support in everything to do with web development and design.
  • codebar supports the underrepresented in learning to program.
  • Women who Code helps women develop careers in software

Other initiatives

There are also initiatives that generally aim to further disseminate knowledge about software development:

  • The NodeSchool imparts knowledge about web development with a workshop.
  • Hackerspaces invite you to learn from each other and tackle projects together.
  • Heart of Code is a hackerspace for women in Berlin.
  • HAEQS is a queer-feminist hackerspace also in Berlin.
  • The OpenTechSchool conducts various workshops and other formats such as co-learning meetings to learn different technologies in the software field.
  • freeCodeCamp offers free online courses to learn programming.

And now?

Everyone can help. There are different possibilities:

  • You can take part in the initiatives yourself - as a coach, but also to learn something yourself.
  • And you can make others aware of the initiatives.

In fact, there are some who have made careers in software development through such initiatives. Participating and helping is therefore worthwhile!

PS: Thanks to my innoQ colleagues Pedro LaFuente Blanco, Lucas Dohmen, Christoph Iserlohn, Christine Koppel, Ute Mayer, Stefan Tilkov and Daniel Westheide for pointing out some of the initiatives. Without them, the post would probably only be half as long.

PPS: The list of initiatives can also be found on GitHub at ewolff.github.io/bildungsinitiativen/. Everyone can view the source code of the website at github.com/ewolff/bildungsinitiativen/ and submit changes as a pull request - you can even make additions in the browser. So if an initiative is missing: Please register there - or leave a comment under the article.

tl: dr

Initiatives for children and underrepresented groups, among others, enable easier access to a career in software development and strengthen our industry. Therefore: Participate and spread the knowledge about the initiatives!

Eberhard Wolff

Eberhard Wolff (@ewolff) works as a fellow at INNOQ. He has been working as an architect and consultant for more than 15 years - often at the interface between business and technology. His technological focus is on modern architecture approaches - cloud, continuous delivery, DevOps, microservices or NoSQL often play a role.

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