For the first installment of our “Alumna series”, we’ve spoken to Oana Sipos, who took part in RGSoC 2013; she’s currently living in Belgium but is planning to move back to her home country, Romania, very very soon. When she’s not busy coordinating Rails Girls events (she’s organised four editions in Brussels so far and has started the Cluj and Timisoara chapters), she loves playing with bits all day long!
Where do you currently work and what do you do?
I am currently working for UP-nxt, a Belgian company developing its own products for document processing.
What does your usual day look like?
My day is a nice mix of documentation, writing tutorials for all kind of internal gems we develop and training people on the platform built in-house. It is a bridge function where knowledge transfer is critical.
How did you get interested in programming?
Ever since high school I liked the mystical side of it – it felt powerful and intriguing to know programming-related stuff. At university, I studied Telecommunications; so technical studies, but still not programming-oriented enough. So I took my heart in my hands and started learning by myself and with the community’s support.
Is a career in tech something you had planned all along? Where did you work or what did you study before?
Not sure I have planned it, totally not after finishing university; however a semester at KU Leuven brought it more on my way so I gave it a chance :) Sometimes, the best things happen when you are planning the least.
Which of your skills helped you most to be successful during RGSoC?
I was part of a volunteering team in RGSoC, as I couldn’t find another girl to pair, and (now I say) luckily that lead to organizing all those Rails Girls events.
Which difficulties did you face during the program — and how did you overcome them?
Motivation was definitely the first one of them — being alone there was just too difficult to keep it up. Discussing with people around me helped a bit, but not sure that made the trick. Having a clear to-do list and speaking up when something is not clear would definitely be my allies, were I to start all over again.
How did Rails Girls Summer of Code help you get to where you are today?
A very nice part of Rails Girls Summer of Code was that they handled free tickets to conferences. This is how I got to go to ArrrrCamp in Gent, Belgium and give a talk. That was a way to spread the knowledge about RGSoC and at the same time, a call to organize Rails Girls Brussels since I could find no girl to form a team. By the end of the conference, I had a bunch of developers interested to help and coach and also I was introduced to my current company :) so, tl;dr life changing!
Who do you look up to in your field? Do you have any role models?
My friends who told me about Ruby definitely are. All the people in the Ruby community who have been very helpful and encouraging also. I cannot pinpoint to a specific person, but they are definitely those closer to me, in the community.
Do you have any advice for future Rails Girls Summer of Code students and for women who wish to work in tech?
Working in tech is challenging, but not nearly as difficult as it may seem. Just give it a try, keep the ball rolling and ask for advice when you are stuck. Don’t stay stuck, there are plenty of people out there willing to give a hand. Walk before you run ;)
What is it like to work in tech?
I must start with “it is not about coding all day long”. It can be, but there are other functions which need both an understanding of technical specs and a set of soft skills. Get out of the box and for sure you will soon identify all kind of opportunities.
Is it difficult to be a woman in tech?
This is about knowledge more than it is about genders. I was the only girl in my office of 13-14 developers and hardly felt different because of being a woman. It might need a while to prove yourself, but I guess there is this starting point everywhere when you are new in a team. Just go for it and don’t let this stop you ;)
Do you want more awesome news? Here we go!
We have managed to get FOUR extra teams on board this year!
Last week we announced seventeen RGSoC 2016 teams. Unfortunately, one of them (TeamASU) has cancelled their participation for personal reasons. As much as we feel sorry when someone can’t do the Summer of Code after being selected, we are super happy to greet new teams. Now we have twenty in total! This is truly amazing, isn’t it? Remember, all of it became possible due to your support: the money you sent us over the last few weeks opened up the possibility to sponsor 2 teams and support 2 volunteer teams. Thank you for making this happen!
And now, meet our new teams!
All of our 2016 teams (updated)! (Image: Ana Sofia Pinho)
Hackbrighters (Patricia and Melissa)
Location: San Francisco, USA
Project: Lektor CMS
Ruby’s secret (Nada and Mayar)
Location: Cairo, Egypt
Project: Exception Notification
B’More Stunners (Ashley and Ore)
Location: Baltimore, USA
Crackers (Nishtha and Nikita)
Location: Gandhinagar, India
The Summer of Code is almost here, and we are waiting for it impatiently!
We’ve had so many awesome applications this year, and picking only a few was incredibly tough; we really wish we could have had the money (and the resources) to have them all on board. But let’s not forget how far we’ve come this year already: Thanks to our amazing community and sponsors, we are able to fund not 11, not 12, but FOURTEEN (!!) teams for 2016 — and have an additional 3 take part as volunteer teams. Look at them all on our map:
All of our 2016 teams! (Image: Ana Sofia Pinho)
For the very first time in RGSoC history, we’ve got teams from Egypt, Singapore, the Czech Republic and Brazil — it’s so great to see teams applying from “new countries” every year, and we can only say a huge THANK YOU to you all for spreading the word among your own communities.
And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: it’s time to announce the teams we’ve chosen to take part in Rails Girls Summer of Code 2016! Here they are:
KaUlah (Ula and Katarzyna)
Location: Warsaw, Poland
Project: GitLab Community Edition
RubyCats (Izabela and Kinga)
Location: Warsaw, Poland
Project: Rails Girls Summer of Code — The Teams App
Joda (Dayana and Johanna)
Location: Berlin, Germany
Twitches (Taneea and Vrinda)
Location: New Delhi, India
MitPal (Sherri and Anitha)
Location: Atlanta, USA
Project: Open Source Event Manager
RGAU2016 (Kylie and Ramya)
Location: Melbourne, Australia
l1ghtsab3r (Srishti and Soumya)
Location: New Delhi, India
kindr3d (Elvina and Micaela)
Location: Frankfurt, Germany
Project: Discourse – Visual Forum Analytics
JaM (Malisa and Jeena)
Location: Portland, USA
XYZ (Veronika and Daria)
Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Echo (Naggita and Joannah)
Location: Kempala, Uganda
Rookies (Tehetena and Hyesoo)
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Periféricas (Emma and Geisa)
Location: Salvador, Brazil
LoadToCode (Thea and Marie)
Location: Berlin, Germany
Project: LEAP Encryption Access Project — Webapp
Fedex++ (Mansi and Sahar)
Location: New Delhi, India
Reactives (Tu An and Shwetha)
Location: Singapore, Singapore
Project: Poetic Computation
TeamASU (Nada and Randa)
Location: Cairo, Egypt
Project: Exception Notification
For every team that didn’t make it: please don’t let it discourage you. As much as we love our scholarship program, there are many ways to start contributing to Open Source and our initiative is only one of many. <3
Have an amazing summer — we sure can’t wait for ours to start!
Our thank_you board is almost complete! (Image: Ana Sofia Pinho)
As we are a few days away from announcing the selected teams, we can’t help wondering how this new batch of students will change the world around them. Meanwhile, July is almost around the corner. This means that our fundraising campaign for RGSoC 2016 will be closing in a few weeks, and all the money we receive after that will be used for RGSoC 2017. So if you still want to help us out getting another extra team this year, you can contribute here.
Having gone through all the 90+ applications we had this year, we are utterly impressed with all of their incredible stories and how they have been overcoming so many personal and professional obstacles in order to be able to learn programming. On top of this, many of them have created and/or helped out on their local communities doing things like organising events and helping children and women take their first steps in coding. So yeah, in the end, after reading these applications we just wanted to fund everyone because we realised that this scholarship would be just that “little” push they need to change their lives! :D
Money talks and donations are always a sensitive topic, but it is a topic that we need to come back to, as we can proudly say our program is entirely funded by people just like you and companies just like yours who want our tech community to be more inclusive and diverse. We really couldn’t be more grateful for that and the students feel the same way.
Our students understand how important this opportunity is for them and the impact they have on other people’s lives. Pursuing a career as a developer will inspire other women to follow their steps or at least give them permission to dream about it; unfortunately, many women don’t even consider a career in tech because they never think it could be a viable possibility for them. When they see individuals they can relate to, people from all sorts of places, social backgrounds and ethnicities, their perception changes and beautiful things happen.
Some of our students (left to right): Carla and Anja (Team Inchworms); Resla and Esther (Team Techylite); Maren and Julia (Team Delta Quadrant)
Every time you or your company donate, we can proudly say you are helping people like Carla and Anja, two students from Berlin who have participated in the first edition and since then, have started working as developers for Travis CI. Anja even co-founded an Open Source project with another group of amazing women. The name of that project is Speakerinnen and it’s a platform where women speakers from all over the world can create their profiles, making it easier for conference organisers to have more diverse panels and lineups. But their story doesn’t end here!
In 2015 Speakerinnen was submitted as a project for RGSoC. Resla and Esther from Nairobi, Kenya, were the selected students to work on that project during the summer. And they didn’t stop there either: they are active members in their community and give talks at several events, like the 2nd Annual African Women in Tech Conference.
And then there are record-breaker teams, like Team Delta Quadrant, who spent the Summer of Code not only contributing with 1.850 lines of code to Diaspora, but also speaking at eight events and helping out in seven workshops as coaches. Way to go Maren and Julia!
So, as you can see, they really don’t take participating in RGSoC lightly! We actually could spend days telling all the amazing stories (over 100 stories!!!), but we need to stop somewhere — at least for this post! However, we don’t want to ruin the surprise, but there might be some news about this topic very soon… ;)
The question of each RGSoC is still the same: how many lives are we going to change this summer?
Mia is trying to help with the RGSoC board! from Rails Girls Summer of Code on Vimeo.
If you believe we can make tech more inclusive faster, help us fund as many teams as possible! Really, help us out here because Mia is not helping! So far we have managed to sponsor more than 11 teams (oops, should we have revealed this?), but we would love to have another extra team this year! Let’s #DiversifyTech!
Ruby Hero Awards (Image: rubyheroes.com)
We got an award, and it belongs to you.
A few weeks ago, we (Laura, Sara, Anika) flew to Kansas City, where we were presented with a Ruby Hero Award for the work on Rails Girls Summer of Code on the stage of RailsConf. The introduction by Olivier Lacan that led up to the award announcements also included a slide with a multitude of faces: all of the Ruby Heroes from 2008 until today. It felt like an honour and a privilege to be now among them and to have Rails Girls Summer of Code recognised for its work in improving the Ruby community, but one thought crossed our minds right away: Is it appropriate for a couple of people to receive an award for a whole organisation?
RGSoC in a nutshell
We’re in our fourth year now, and as a community initiative, RGSoC has been organised by lots of people. All in all, every year we have over 100 volunteers working on the program: This includes organisers and developers, project mentors and coaches, who all work tirelessly in their free time to make our community a better place; some of them year after year. This initiative works because of the people — and only because of them.
What are the Ruby Heroes Awards?
“The Ruby Heroes Awards recognise the everyday heroes of the Ruby community” — this is the tagline you can find on the Ruby Heroes website. The award is an attempt to highlight people who have supported the community in one way or the other — in some case, unsung heroes who’d otherwise have their work go unnoticed.
Every member of the Ruby community is welcome to nominate their own Ruby Hero; the people with the highest amount of nominations end up on a shortlist, from which a jury of previous Ruby Heroes will pick the finalists. As with every award, this one comes with a great deal of criticism: Why is ABC on the list? Why isn’t XYZ on the list? Isn’t Ruby Heroes just a popularity contest?
While this blog post isn’t the right place to discuss the issues of how Ruby Heroes are nominated and selected, one thing we have to point out is that the jury selects people, not organisations. In our case, this means some of the individuals behind RGSoC were singled out to receive this award.
Everyone at RGSoC is a Ruby Hero
Standing on the stage of RailsConf, together with 6 other amazing people from the Ruby community — who have worked hard to make Ruby great, accessible, inviting, and inclusive — was incredible, and we are thankful to have had this opportunity. It made us proud of what we’ve achieved and of the lives we changed. It was a tangible proof for us that Rails Girls Summer of Code has an impact on the community. This happiness at the news was also tinged with a bit of sadness, because singling out individuals for their achievements within our organisation doesn’t reflect the spirit of RGSoC. Everyone who ever worked on Rails Girls Summer of Code is a Ruby Hero. If you’ve ever coached or supervised a team, organised, donated or sponsored this initiative: this award belongs to you.
As no award is complete without the special thanks section, we’d like to name a few people who have impacted RGSoC a great deal and without whom the program would not be in its fourth year.
Some of our amazing volunteers and Ruby Heroes! (Image: Ana Sofia Pinho)
Our organisers, past and present: Floor, Katrin, Carsten, Ramón, Ana, Maria, Sven, Lucas, Tam, Markus, Benedict, Lisa, Max, Emi, Vaishali, Andy, Robin, Natalie;
Duana and Erik for always believing in the program and supporting it from the first minute, and Erik for drawing attention to RGSoC for the RubyHeroes award;
Piotr and Tomasz for coaching every year and for this:
#donatebecause (Photo: Piotr and Tomasz)
Adam, Alex, Alexandra, Lieke, Vyki, Cathy, JZ, Kasia, Magda, Qian, Laura W., Charlotte, Verena, Claudi, Rebecca, Fanny, Arne, John, Uta, Jen, Anne, Terence, Susanne, Björn and so, so many more.
Thank you — this is for you!
Your Ruby Hero Award (Image: Anika Lindtner/Laura Gaetano)