4 Minutes Read | All Things Piktochart

Piktochart + Rails Girls: Inspiring Women in Tech

Jacqueline Jensen

Community Evangelist | Piktochart

Rails Girls started with one simple goal – to open up technology and make it more approachable for girls and women. This grassroots organization was founded by Linda Liukas and Karri Saarinen, and their first event was held in Helsinki back in November 2010. At that very first event, more than 100 interested girls and women signed up for the workshop to learn more about coding.

Since 2010, Rails Girls has gone global with events from Singapore to Berlin. They’ve also grown into a strong, non-profit volunteer community. Each event is free and open to all enthusiastic girls and women. Rails Girls events are where girls and women gather to discuss, foster, and encourage a love, understanding, and appreciation of all things technology.

Why We Support Rails Girls

Here at Piktochart, there are a number of things that excite us about Rails Girls.

First, our team at Piktochart uses Ruby on Rails to keep Piktochart going for our 7 million users. We are passionate about all things Ruby, and we think we have unique knowledge and experience to offer to those interested in web technology.

Second, in order to continue growing Piktochart, we’ve made it a priority to hire the best and brightest technical talent. It’s important to us to help grow a strong tech ecosystem in our local community.

Finally, we’ve seen how incredible Rails Girls events can be firsthand. Back in 2014, we hosted 44 enthusiastic coders in our headquarters in Penang, Malaysia. It was an amazing experience for our both our Piktochart family and event attendees alike!

Meet Kyle Dolezal

This year, we hosted a Rails Girls event on December 3, 2016. The event was a group effort, but one of our team members took a strong leadership role throughout.

Kyle Dolezal, a Ruby on Rails Developer at Piktochart, has a passion for data, software design, and learning. Kyle’s background is in research, but he loved teaching himself computer programming skills so much that he decided to write code full-time.

“I decided that I wanted a career in tech, so I took time off work to teach myself some Java and Ruby,” he recalled. “Ultimately, I ended up going back to school to learn Ruby on Rails.”

Overcoming Intimidation

A strong centerpiece for the Rails Girls community is making technology more approachable. Event attendees learn sketching, prototyping, basic programming, and get introduced to the world of technology. The strong community at the events can help ease the fears of women who are intimidated by learning to code.

“For some who are new to coding, ‘imposter syndrome’ can creep in. Imposter syndromeis the belief that one doesn’t belong in a particular job or industry,” said Kyle. “This could come in the form of the belief that one feels they don’t look like a programmer, is not good enough, too old, too slow, too forgetful, or perhaps even something else. I’ve definitely experienced doubts about my own abilities, and it kept me in my previous comfortable career path for quite some time.”

When he felt imposter syndrome inch closer and closer, Kyle said he reached out to people he could relate to who had changed career paths successfully. Doing this helped inspire and motivate him.

“I also considered whether I valued a comfortable and stable career more than one in which I challenged myself and pursued my interests,” he said.

Rails Girls 2016

As a developer, Kyle’s favorite part of his job is that he always has the chance to learn new things and take on new challenges. Leading up the organization of our Rails Girls event this year was a perfect fit for Kyle.

“I feel Rails Girls is a great event for Piktochart because as a company, we’ve gotten a lot from our community,” said Kyle. “We have great staff members, advice, and support from our community. Rails Girls is a chance to help us build up the tech community in Penang even further. In particular, we want to show that women belong in technology roles alongside men. Rails Girls is an ideal event to help women get started with coding.”

Piktochart’s co-founder and CEO Ai Ching Goh agrees.

“There are many female friends of mine who tell me they wish they knew how to code! Rails Girls is guided even for the person without any basic knowledge of computer engineering, and they have a proven syllabus,” said Ai Ching. “Rails Girls helps women who are genuine about learning something new to gather in one place and learn together. It’s a full day of a taster to figure out if they want to pursue it as a hobby or even a career!

“Good things happen when we gather passionate people in one place.' -Ai Ching GohClick To Tweet

One of Ai Ching’s favorite aspects of events like Rails Girls is that it brings together the community and allows for serendipity. In fact, when Piktochart hosted Rails Girls in 2014, our team hired one of the attendees who had a background as a UX researcher and a true enthusiasm for learning new things.

“Good things happen when we gather passionate people in one place,” said Ai Ching.

This year, the Rails Girls event we hosted was bigger and better than we had expected! In 2014, our team focused only on word-of-mouth to draw attendees. This time around, we went into colleges and universities for a wider reach. We also brought on amazing community sponsors including the University of Malaya.

“The sponsors provided coaches, facilities for the event, and getting the word out about the event,” said Kyle. “In addition, some female leaders in the tech industry shared messages of support to the participants.”

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