Giving Women Tools to Build Their Ideas with Rail Girls

By Silicon Allee |

Interview conducted by Sandy Hathaway

A Ruby on Rails workshop called Rails Girls will take place in Berlin on April 13-14 at the betahaus co-working space in Kreuzberg. The event is aimed at helping provide women with the tools to better understand technology through ROR, a open source web framework optimised to improve the productivity of programmers.

Silicon Allee caught up with Pia Henrietta Kekäläinen, one of the organizers of the event, to learn more over a cappuccino at Cafe Anna Blume in Prenzlauer Berg.

SILICON ALLEE: Why are you holding this event in Berlin?

PIA HENRIETTA KEKÄLÄINEN: We’re really excited about the upcoming workshop in Berlin, there’s so much going on here. The startup scene here is definitely bubbling, but as it is with most other tech hubs around the world, everyone would give a little finger for a girl developer.

SA: What’s the idea behind it?

PHK: The aim of Rails Girls is to give females the tools to understand technology, but also bring them the community and inspiration. I believe that education is the most important driver of change in the world, and the tech scene is no exception. We want to help girls break down that first barrier, the insecurity of diving into technology. So we provide a first experience on building things.

SA: What’s the event going to be like?

PHK: Our coaches are there to answer questions and keep a positive vibe. The environment is supportive, enjoyable and sometimes quite girly – although I must say that guys are also welcome to join in the fun, especially for our after party. So far, we’ve always had some guys as coaches, and sometimes as speakers too.

SA: What kind of women would the workshop benefit?

PHK: The program is free, and women of any age with very basic knowledge of how to use a computer can participate – although the majority are usually aged in their 20s and 30s. However, (founder) Linda Liukas had some secondary school girls really enthusiastic about this and we even had a lady in her 60s on board once – she just wanted to learn how to code.

SA: How is the event shaping up?

PHK: The scene in Berlin is a little bit different than other places: there are more girls here who have previous experience, and the word has spread really fast. We try to see that the groups of different levels are equal and that we get a vast variety.

We are really fortunate to have the support of the local startup community who have ensured that we can bring this opportunity to girls and women in Berlin. We are grateful to the networking support of the Berlin Geekettes as well as our sponsors: SoundCloud , Wooga, ReadMill , betahaus, RailsLove, Amen and kippt. Our after party will take place on Saturday April 14, and anyone interested in tech is welcome to come join us later.