Watch us on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOFDCmXpxvw
Women && Code is one of the most successful communities started in Vienna with the purpose of bringing women* into programming in Austria. The vision of the community is to achieve 50-50 gender equality in tech in Austria. Listen to co-founder Eva Lettner, herself a former marketing expert turned tech lead, present the community: how does it work, who is it for, what to expect as a participant, how can it help you in your career, how many women they have helped, how companies can get involved. #cisco
Resources and links: Women && Code website: https://womenandcode.org/ Follow Women && Code on Twitter: https://twitter.com/womenandcode Connect with Eva on Twitter: https://twitter.com/eva_trostlos Other communities: https://thenewitgirls.com/ https://www.womenwhocode.com/ http://blackgirlscode.org/ Connect with Eva Lettner on Twitter: https://twitter.com/eva_trostlos
DISCLAIMER from Ramón: In this episode, I bring up the Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color in Tech (BIPoCiT) Space implemented at JSConf EU in 2019 while discussing the topic of women-only spaces. I initially wanted to talk about how whiteness toxically uses reverse racism as a shield when discussing BIPoC spaces, but didn’t want to go off-topic in this episode, concluding it by saying I didn’t want to open a can of worms. I apologize for not spending more time on it, and would like to cover this topic in a future episode. Please note that this by no means diminishes the importance of the topic, as empowering those who are underrepresented and/or marginalized is our goal. In the meantime, we recommend reading JSConf EU’s page on the topic: https://2019.jsconf.eu/bipocit-space/
TIMEA: Hey Ramón!
RAMÓN: Hey Timea!
TIMEA: Let’s talk, gender equality.
RAMÓN: I love the idea. Gimme a second. I just got to grab my coffee. I hope you’ve got yours too.
TIMEA: Yeah, right here.
RAMÓN: Welcome welcome, everybody. If you were listening before we’ve got a very special guest on the show. Once again here we’ve got Eva Lettner who is amongst other things public speaker Google developer expert and coding instructor at the Women && Code organization.
TIMEA: Hi, Eva. Hi, everybody.
RAMÓN: Hey, hey, so if you’ve been listening to the show before you probably knew that we had a van to talk about her journey as a polymath and and a public speaker. And what we wanted to do today was cover a little bit about Women && Code as an organization itself. So, yes, this is Women && Code. We covered it shortly before. But could you tell us a little bit about Women && Code once again. For those just joining in.
TIMEA: So I was one time I joined as a tutor, I said this in the previous podcast and I felt very safe and welcome. And I really like how people interacted with each other safe to ask questions, nothing was, you know, to easy to ask or whatever this kind of attitude. And I really like the projects they did. And I noticed you have this exercises that people could access online. Was the material something that you and Barbara worked on created on the website and everything
TIMEA: So from what I understand it’s basically for people that are not in tech already. And you created this easy way for them to get to know some basics and decide for themselves. How far they want to go and learn by not using the slang in tech being motivational in the teaching materials. And I understand from the last podcast, this is something that comes from. Also your experience of being a “quereinsteigerin” or somebody who changed from marketing, for example, into tech, right?
EVA: Yeah, so I kind of know where people are coming from when there is this magical thing of programming. And only really intelligent people can do it. And you need to have a math brain to do it. And you need to be a certain person to be able to do take, which is obviously…
EVA: Thank you I didn’t know if I was allowed to say bullshit. Yes it’s not true. You can be whoever you want to tech it it doesn’t matter. I don’t have a math brain I can’t do it for the life of me.
TIMEA: Tell us a bit about the kind of people that come to your workshop. What who will I meet if I go there.
EVA: Many marketing women, okay, because they work in agencies and they work with developers or they work with developers and other agencies and they want to understand what’s taking so long. Why is it so expensive? And how can I tell them exactly what you need to know?
TIMEA: Good point.
EVA: Yeah. And it really helps a lot to know what’s underneath the hood. Because if you’re just like I want to change the font on this, can you change the font on this and then the developer. They don’t know what they’re talking about I’m going to charge them that. And for the women that come into our course, helpless in that way. They want to understand what’s happening there. And if they can do it by themselves.
EVA: It’s always a thing that they want to strive for is I have this WordPress site and I just need to change a little thing. If I send it off to an agency will take five weeks. If I do it myself. Can I do this quickly? So they want to learn how to do things themselves. But also to understand what’s actually happening there. And how long it will take what amount of work goes into this so that they can be more assertive in their conversations with developers or development agencies just to have more skills and more knowledge about the topic itself.
TIMEA: What kind of what kind of topics do they have the opportunity to get knowledge at Women && Code what do you offer?
TIMEA: Oh, wow, yeah. Wait if it’s Java that means that you are also targeting people who might actually start then working in work, right?
EVA: Yeah, also spoilers. Lots of people have started working in tech through women and code.
TIMEA: Yeah, that is what I was getting at. That is so cool.
EVA: We have a couple of people who are now programmers and the nice thing about it is that we have built a relationship with the community of the women that come to our classes. So they reach out to us when they landed jobs because they want to let us know because we always tell people please tell us if you make it. And if we can help you, we also do CV checks with people try to use our networks to get people jobs.
TIMEA: Okay, so listen up. Who wants to get started in tech? Women && Code in Vienna. And in another point, your courses are they in any case, open source?
EVA: Yes. We’ve had loads of critique from men, why is it just for women and women get everything for free and it’s so unfair that’s not the reason why we put it open source because we don’t really care about that. But it is there for everybody and everyone can do this we just don’t have men in our courses. Yeah, that is also what you talked about before. We have this atmosphere of a very safe space. And we have experienced that a lot with women feeling safe with us. We’ve had trans women feeling safe with us and that is super important and we have a very strict code of conduct that we enforce we’ve had loads of women, Muslim women coming who took friends with them because they were unsure whether they would feel safe in this community and then came back by themselves and told us, yeah, we felt so safe last time. So this time I decided to come by myself and that is so nice and I’m so proud of this community because they embrace everybody and they just want to be nice to each other.
TIMEA: A few years ago. Around the time I started women time makers. I did a meet up with the back then organizers of different communities, Django girls, Ruby, Rails girls. I had very interesting people and I remember specifically there was but I don’t remember who it was. There was one woman at that meeting and she did master thesis on this topic. In Germany and he looked into the women only communities in Germany. And why do they even exist and what the benefit or what’s the downside. And I remember that she said that there is this need when you’re a young professional or someone who wants to change into tech and you’re simply as a woman, even more shy of asking what you think in your mind is a stupid question, which actually is not. And I don’t know it’s just because of this big gender bias in tech, it just created this lack of confidence of a girl of a woman to ask this, so called silly question, which actually is not it’s just basic one and she said that these women only communities were needed. Exactly for that purpose, only targeting young, professional or beginners and giving them the opportunity and the atmosphere so they are okay with asking this, because this is an important part of the learning. And I think at the same time you’re also growing their confidence and confidence is a different total topic. So for me, it always made sense that for your special target group. You need to create this atmosphere for me. For me it always made sense, however, I did one other meet up. I met somebody who happened to be a man and he was very against women only events and he was so one sided with the view. I understand his point of view as well because he was trying to learn tech, get into tech and for him he said that he only finds courses where he has to pay there’s nothing for free. And he likes to have this community learning and not learn online on his own. It made sense, but I mean, what does this mean? One, opportunity your courses are open source. Everybody can start it off. Start your own community. This is what I gave him as an advice or a learning circle too. You can use the material for any kind of a community, any gender, any age. Any whatever is so that’s a call to action here.
EVA: When Barbara and I said when we started this initiative, we said as soon as we have 50 50 gender equality intake in Austria, we will stop. We will allow that’s our definite retirement. Thing is if we reach 50 50 we’re done we’re not going to do this anymore.
TIMEA: Let’s work on it together, I love it. I also have this goal.
EVA: But at the moment we are not there.
TIMEA: As the fact I noticed, I researched this topic. And in 2018, I have the numbers there were 17% women in tech. So from the whole workforce, I don’t know 150,000, 30,000 were women only 17% I think especially in Austria we have a long way to go. And this is one of the reasons why me and Ramón started the podcast. Yeah, our little call to action.
RAMÓN: I’m trying to remember where it is that I saw. I think it was corner was PyLadies’ FAQ that had a question whose answer I always come back to, which is something like, why is this space only for women isn’t that sexist as well? And the answer is amongst other things like this is an open source piece of education. You can fork it. But the one thing they put kind of cheeky, but I kind of like it, which is, but, hey, this is our approach. If you think you can do it better, please. Yeah, go ahead.
EVA: We don’t have a monopoly in any of this.
EVA: Go ahead.
RAMÓN: Yeah, no, I think being able to be open and saying this works for us this is something we can iterate on. I think it’s worked remarkably well because you’ve been at this for how many years now almost 3, 4, time has no meaning.
EVA: Since We’ve taken a bit of a break I think we did it for two years in total.
TIMEA: Can you tell us a bit number of women you’ve empowered? Because I think you have some success stories there.
EVA: We have had a couple hundred women in. I think it was close to a thousand women that came to our classes. We more than one of the exercises. So that is for a small town. Vienna is… it’s amazing. Yes, I have met loads of these women over the years. Now, that that know me from Women && Code, and I have so many problems remembering because it was just so many. Yeah, and I hired three of them.
TIMEA: Wow, wow so cool, so.
EVA: Yeah it’s really cool. But to be fair, I didn’t hire them because I didn’t want anyone to think that I would. I would give somebody a leg up, just because I know them. So I have my colleagues hire than well.
TIMEA: Of course, they went to an interview and all that. Showcase the skills I’m sure of that. But.
EVA: I would like you need to make the decision because I would take. I don’t want to be the one making the decision for.
TIMEA: I remember I was so proud when you first I talked about, for example, the women hackathon where you had. It was sold out, right? It was like 70 women and even more showed up and you tried to make space for everybody. And it was women only. And I was so proud when you talked openly on Twitter and all that about it because I was like after this. And after the work that you have done is how can people say in Austria that women don’t want to code or women are not interested in IT or in programming. You can you can’t say this anymore like you’ve proven them wrong. This is what it meant for me.
EVA: Yeah we’ve put up a hackathon and we’ve done two hackathons by now and we put them up and they were sold out really quickly, the second one took a bit longer because we did it in vacation time. And still more people came and signed up and we almost ran out of space and pizza, so it’s really amazing. Women took their children with them. We had a baby there. The mom was like, yeah it’s fine she’s going to put the baby somewhere, because it’s a room full of women. Somebody was pick it up when it cries.
TIMEA: Yeah, we have this Women Techmakers too.
EVA: The only male in the room was the baby. Yeah it’s just a really cool space. And if you have 80 women in a room in a hackathon working on programming. I feel that nobody can tell me that women can’t, that’s bullshit.
TIMEA: I really want to shout it from the top of my lungs to all the companies and everybody who keeps saying that this is not for women and they are not interested. And there are no women in IT. I just want to show the numbers and always talk about your successes with the community, because for me it was a clear showcase or push back at the status quo. Yeah, this also brings me to a great topic of obviously it’s an NGO, you offer pizza. You have a space where people can come so how do you manage all these resources? Because you do have to invest some money in it.
TIMEA: Okay, with companies. I suppose.
EVA: Companies, although we have had loads of trouble, sourcing money because we were a new organization in the beginning. And also because I am not a good hustler. I think Barbara is more. So she got us all the free spaces to hold our workshops in. But it was very tedious to get money out of companies because there are so many meetups in Vienna all of them get money from the same companies. And the next meet up, wanting money they’re like, yeah. But we’re already paying for that and that. So it’s very hard to start using if you are not ingrained in this community of getting money from companies. That was really difficult. But how we also get money is it was initially my idea to just have an open thing and everyone can come and go if they want to. But that turned out to not be possible, because there were so many women that signed up each time.
TIMEA: Too many. Okay, so we need the spaces.
EVA: And we need to know how many are coming and we need space to.
EVA: So we limited ourselves to. I think initially I was 15 and then we had to open it up to 20 and we were sold out within, like two hours or something. Most of the time.
TIMEA: Wow that’s insane again.
EVA: But we had to limit it. Just because we needed space for people. And also we needed and to so, yeah, we actually needed to take care of that. And so what we started doing was because meet ups are notorious for people signing up and then not coming. We didn’t want that to happen. So we put a paywall in front of it. So you can reserve your space for nine euros. And the nine euros don’t go to Barbara and me. They go into the community. So we pay for food. We pay for spaces we pay for the Hackathon. Use the money to fund the whole project. Also, we have a social program that if you cannot afford the nine years, then we take the money from that and pay for your spot. So we make sure that everybody can participate and it was never a problem for people to pay nine euros because nine euros are not much.
TIMEA: But it goes a long way for you for organizing it.
EVA: Yeah it’s just that helps a lot with taking the pressure off of finding sponsors.
TIMEA: Yeah, we know a little bit about finding sponsors ourselves. But I want to give her the opportunity and a shout out: companies, if you’re listening in, HR people, especially, yeah. If you’re looking to hire women in IT, that are really interested. I think Women && Code is the best place to go at in Vienna right now. If you want quereinsteigerinnen, juniors, if you can help them grow into a position that you envision for them in your company and if I saying sponsoring is always welcome. Yes. I can tell you any community that is welcome and it doesn’t have to be now. Thousands of euros, it can start really small and you can make a big impact and you help out gender equality in STEM.
RAMÓN: Absolutely. I think it’s important to remember that especially as somebody. When I say somebody else. I mean, a company trying to make themselves known trying to have a presence doing that in a gradual manner coming to these events showing up as well. By the way, showing up out helping the costs making these accessible to people it’s kind of a long game. Isn’t it people people notice people is like, yeah it’s that company who keeps the people with the funky stickers. The people with the the people who nicely show up and Super friendly and have a presence.
EVA: Yeah, and the participants were they still talk about? We were invited to Cisco in Vienna and they got us the best food.
EVA: It was such a nice space. And we actually had people asking the women from Cisco that where they are talking about the company. We actually had women going up to them talking to them about jobs because it was just such a nice atmosphere that they provide there. And so it’s really helpful if you want to get women into your company in tech positions, reach out to the organizations that actually help get these women jobs. And I can speak from experience in my company. When I started there, we had three women as developers. I think, including me. And now we are close to 50-50.
EVA: Yeah, we have hired a lot of women and it’s good for the teams.
TIMEA: Can I ask you? Is part of the reason why you managed or the company managed 50 50 is it you? Did you match them? Did you inspire them? Did you help with Women && Code?
EVA: Yeah, maybe.
TIMEA: I hope so, come on!
RAMÓN: I think it’s important to take credit where credit is due right?
TIMEA: Yeah, I feel like it’s a place of taking credit.
EVA: It was a huge goal of mine as soon as I got enough influence to actually influence hiring decisions to get more women into it. And it changed the way that people talk to each other. So much it has changed the awareness. It has changed the working mode. It has changed all the communication it’s just it was so beneficial and I’m incredibly proud. That we have reached such a high number now and it’s amazing it’s also amazing to manage women it’s just really nice.
TIMEA: I feel like I have three other topics of podcast episode I want to talk to you about and let’s keep the conversation to invite you again. I hope that would be possible. Well, right now I feel empowered from our talk and I feel like, 2021 Yeah. Let’s start working again, by the way. When can we expect you coming back? Women && Code.
EVA: Post Covid.
TIMEA: Fair enough.
EVA: We want to do face to face to the event again. We always meet in person because it’s important for us to the connection to our participants and for them to build a network because it’s very difficult to build a network on his own. Call with people who you don’t know a lot easier if you’re under seen both together sitting in the same room working on the same project to. That is something that has always been. The main part of Women && Code is we want to meet the people. We want to meet the women and hang out with them and talk to them. And that is also why it has worked well. So we want to come back. But we want to come back when it’s safe. And we don’t want to endanger anyone. Especially because we’ve always had pregnant women there and we want to also give a chance to women that have pre-existing conditions that would otherwise be endangered. So we want to come back when it’s safe and it’s sensible when we can put people together on the same desk so that they can work together. Yes, we will come back in a sensible manner.
TIMEA: Let us know how we can help you with promotion. If you need help or I’m glad to recommend you to our sponsors. We don’t know if we are having a conference next year yet. We haven’t decided, yeah.
RAMÓN: Stay tuned. On that note Eva, taking timing into consideration. If I were if I a woman in tech we’re interested in mentoring and helping with Women && Code. Is that something I could do?
EVA: For the moment. That will be more. But if you have a specific skill that you want to teach people whether it’s I don’t know big data, project management in IT something like that. If you can build a curriculum about that topic with, like, eight to 10 lessons. Yeah, sure. Also, if you know any of our technologies just come and be a mentor that’s.
TIMEA: I recommend it was very nice. Yeah.
EVA: I think it’s a cool experience it’s also a learning experience. You don’t have to be a pro because people start from zero, so it’s actually really good to learn yourself, because I find that I learn best. When I try and explain something to somebody. Really helpful to teach people so you can help yourself.
RAMÓN: Absolutely one thing I keep coming back to is the fact that even if you’ve been working in a specific field for so long trying to formulate it in a way that’s accessible to a newcomer really helps kind of it reminds me that there’s a lot that I take for granted when it comes to for example software development. I think it’s good, it kind of keeps things fresh. Yes that’s awesome. Well, I think we’ve been at this for a while before we close out I’m curious. Do you have any recommendations for sources for reading. We can do to help inspire others to get mentoring organizing. Yeah.
EVA: There’S actually, in Vienna there’s a new community that’s called new IT Girls. Yeah, they are doing loads of awesome stuff they’re doing meetups they’re also working now during Covid. So they are doing cool things. Yeah, I would check them out because they have very cool community and they are working while Women && Code is on pause.
TIMEA: Spoiler alert. Astrid said yes to being our guest on the podcast on they are amazing, thank you for referencing them.
EVA: They’re doing a great job. And then internationally there are also great resources. There is Women Who Code there are Black Girls Code, there is a lot of resources out there for women to get into coding and, yeah it’s really nice there. I think they called Tech Ladies like a mentorship program and community building. So, yeah there’s lots of cool stuff out there. What I always recommend when you’re trying get into something new. Whether it’s you want to learn a new skill? You want to learn for a new job you want to learn. A hobby is to get a tribe together like build an interest group of four to five people to keep you accountable. And then learn with you. And that is really helpful because if you’re not programming by yourself it can be very demotivating in there and then useful because it doesn’t work and it’s shit. But having an interest group that meets every week. Every two weeks every month and that can also happen worldwide. You can have people all over the world. And you just hang out in a Zoom call. And you say hey, I have this problem doesn’t work I’m so demotivated, you will find somebody. You interest group and will say. Yeah, I can show you how to fix that I’ve had the same problem before. And so this is really helpful. Trying to find these people might be a little bit challenging. But you can ask on Twitter you can write to any one of us. We will retweet just to find you people that will hang out with you.
TIMEA: Invite us on Women Techmakers and we can see if we can connect with others.
EVA: Yeah, sure it’s having a group of accountability bodies. Just keep you keep you added.
RAMÓN: I love it. I love it what’s that saying, it takes a village.
TIMEA: What is it?
RAMÓN: It takes a village. I don’t know the rest. I don’t know if there is a rest.
EVA: It’s about raising children.
RAMÓN: Oh, no that’s not what I mean.
EVA: You can count for anything for. I had one of those groups for playing piano.
TIMEA: Yeah. It can be for everything, basically.
EVA: Yeah, I think it’s very helpful.
RAMÓN: That’s amazing, I love it.
TIMEA: Thank you for all the kind words recommendation for again, the work you’re doing. We are so looking forward and for you and Barbara to start this again. I hope that this time off you regain some of the energy which you manage to nicely “ausstrahlen” to shine basically in the community again. And if there’s anything how we can help you from Women Techmakers or personally, yeah, from time to time show up as a tutor, maybe come up with new topics for you companies to sponsor you and venues. We would gladly help.
EVA: Yeah we need venues.
RAMÓN: Well, I know. We asked this in the last episode. But if people want to get in touch with you what’s the best way.
EVA: Twitter @eva_trostlos that way you can reach me in easiest I’m not an email person. I get emails. I forget to answer them.
RAMÓN: Fair enough!
EVA: Feel bad for not answering them for two weeks, and then I’m like, yeah, too late now.
RAMÓN: And then you can move on. No, that sounds great. Well, thank you so much for being on once again, this has been an absolute pleasure. I hope that we can do so again soon. Hopefully in person as well. That would be amazing. I think that’s all for me, anything from you, Timea.
TIMEA: No, I just feel very grateful for this time together.
RAMÓN: Same here.
TIMEA: Thanks a lot.
EVA: Thank you.
RAMÓN: Thank you all for listening. Catch you next time.
TIMEA: Are you on the forefront of gender equality? You are invited on our podcast.
RAMÓN: That’s right. Or maybe you know somebody that we could have a chat with on gender quality. You should totally get in touch with us. We’re on Twitter @GenderCoffee. Or any of the other contact methods on our show notes, we would love you to get in touch and for us to have a chat.