Exclusive Interview with Ann Luo, The Founder of CodingGirls Singapore
CodingGirls aims to close the gender disparity in the Tech industry. We are advocates for girls and women. We inspire them to become successful, stay confident, and nurture their passion for interest in computer science and technology. We are growing a community where female role models lead by example, where we share learning resources and provide networking opportunities for all.
I read that you wanted to help women that would like to code. But are they other components that have motivated your choice to build CodingGirls?
I’m a self-taught programmer and it was an exciting and painful journey back in that time. I was excited by the things I built by coding and at the same time, I felt painful because it was difficult for non-techie to get started: which language I should learn first, which framework I should choose and what tutorial I should follow, etc. And even if you jump into coding, the error messages can be really confusing. Because of my self-learning experience, I wish to help women like me by providing easy access and creating a supportive environment for them to learn and grow.
“Inspiration, Education, and Connection”
Where did these 3 pillars came from?
It’s a pipeline, inspiration is the first step - to motivate them to join the tech industry and dare to be the top player in tech. Education is to equip them with the necessary skills that are required for their goals. Connections - networking & mutual support system to pave the way to reach their goals.
Was it hard to organize at first? How did the community come together?
We got support from the community from day 1. My programmer friends are willing to share their knowledge and we have government-IMDA and corporates that allow us to use their space. The challenge came in later when we were overwhelmed by the positive feedback and requests for more events/workshops but we are short of labor - we are nonprofit and never make money from our courses or events and because of that, I rely on grants, sponsorships, and volunteers. Scalability and sustainability are my biggest challenges.
How are the workshop and bootcamps organized? Where do the speakers come from?
We have a keen sense of what are in-demand skills in tech and what are the trending technologies but as a data-driven decision-making team, we will do research to verify our ideas and make a proposal and reach out to experts in the industry for feedback. Together with instructors we create a curriculum and prepare the course materials. Speakers come from our network, volunteers reach out to us too.
How do you ensure that people attending the events network with each other? How do you keep them entertained, and motivated to take part in the movement?
Great questions. As event organizers, we need to do our homework to make sure the content/topics are relevant and “attractive” to the audience and find credible speakers who will show up in the first place. What’s more important is to create a friendly and energetic vibe to make everyone feel inclusive and safe. This is also why we have the CodingGirls community - female oriented community, most attendees of tech events are men, and women attendees don't feel a sense of belonging.
What inspires you the most about the workshops you have organized?
We have senior people who are 58 years old and still are willing to learn.
We know about the “Everything About Data Analytics” success story but do you have other positive, reactions, feedback, or testimonies that women gave to you after attending these events?
There are many. For example, many have told us about their successful job application, and we have a girl who became a KOL (key opinion leader) after attending our GCP program. But, we don't want to take any credit, it’s them who work really hard to make it, we just help them get started.
You mentioned the difficulty a few years ago, juggling between your full-time job and CodingGirls. Did you solve this problem?
Oops, still :).
How did you manage to have that many supporters? Are you still trying to grow the community?
I guess it’s because we have a good cause and after years of effort we have built up our credibility. Yes, the more the better.
How do you envision this collaboration with Whire?
As I said before, we are trying to build the pipeline for women to succeed in the tech industry and Whire is able to connect them with the best job opportunities which are totally aligned with what we want to achieve. By tapping into Whire’s network, our community will have wider choices. In return, we give access to Whire of our talents, Whire’s referral program also incentive them to do so.
What are your plans for the future regarding CodingGirls? Where do you see CodingGirls in a couple of years?
The short-term plan will have more content regarding web 3.0, we already have partnerships with top-tier companies/labs/foundations in the ecosystem. The ultimate goal is to democratize access and opportunities for women in tech so that one day we don't need CodingGirls as the gender inequality in tech no longer exists.
Do you have anything to say to end this interview? Perhaps, a message that is important to you and that you would like to share.
The only constant in life is change, never stop learning.
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