On Friday night 28th June and all day Saturday 29th June 2013, the first Rails Girls workshop was held in Sydney to teach women to program using Ruby on Rails, an open-source web-application framework.

The first event was a great success before it even started, with a staggering total of 97 women signing up. With only 35 places available for the initial event, we’re now gearing up for the next Rails Girls Sydney to cater for the women who missed out. It looks like the next event will be in September. Follow @railsgirlsau or #railsgirlssyd on twitter to look out for date and venue details.

A global non-profit organisation, Rails Girls provides free weekend workshops aimed at encouraging more females to consider a career in IT or build their great idea by teaching them how to code. Events around the globe are put on by local sponsors and volunteer technologists.

In Sydney the event co-coordinators were Paula Ngov (DiUS Computing), Andrew Harvey (Ninefold) and Elle Meredith (Blake Education). The sponsors for the first workshop were DiUS Computing, Ninefold (including venue), Blake Education, Lookahead Search, Envato, Reinteractive, and Realestate.com.au. Read more about their motivations for organising the event.

What went down at the first Rails Girls Sydney

Rails Girls Sydney provided the right environment for women to learn, connect with Rails experts and become motivated to continue coding. Most importantly, we gave them a structure and process for engaging with these experts in the future, as they need help.

On the Friday night, 35 girls and 17 volunteer coaches got to know each other over pizza and beer. We gave an overview of what we were going to do, played ice breaker games and installed all the relevant pieces of the puzzle such as Rails (development framework), Heroku (application hosting) and Sublime (text editor) on the girls’ laptops.

Rails Girls Sydney

Friday Hug by Rails Girls Sydney

Bright and early on a rainy Saturday, we started by going through the Ruby tutorial to get a feel for the language. We then walked through instructions to create and run an application that allowed a user to add, remove and edit an “Idea”. Some even deployed their application to a production server! That is, deploy their application to a site that can be accessed through the web. VERY cool! If people finished earlier, they could focus on things like tuning their application’s design and functionality.

Rails Girls Sydney

And most important, there was a tasty selection of food and good coffee to keep people alert throughout the day!

Rails Girls Sydney

Rails Girls Sydney

The event would not have been possible without the help of the Rails mentors. A lot of girls had tried coding before, but had always ran into issues, ‘giving up’ as they could not be resolved easily. Having the mentors there made sure the girls stayed motivated and removed success barriers as needed. A special thanks to the four volunteer coaches from DiUS: Fontini Karadimas, Luca Pistolesi, Steve Smithwick, Caolite Dunne.

Rails Girls Sydney

See more photos of the two-day event.