Bringing women together in learning how to code. Helping in bridging the gap of women attainment in tech.
Senior Fellow Antonela Kotsoni is all for defying social norms, especially those about gender and professions. It is no mystery that, despite the fact that the proportion of women in the workforce continues to rise, there are still many fields that are largely male dominant. Antonela refused to accept this and felt that something had to be done about it in her local community of Patras, Greece. She found the tech industry in particular to have a significant gender gap. This, coupled with the statement from the World Economic Forum predicting that 80% of jobs in 2030 have yet to be created, puts women in an especially precarious position when it comes to future employability. For these reasons, Antonela was determined to empower and encourage other women to learn technological skills that would give them a head start in becoming part of the tech industry later on.
In 2018, Antonela left her home in Greece and went to the United States to participate in the Humanity in Action Detroit Fellowship Program in order to fulfill her goal. After acquiring the necessary knowledge, she went back to Patras where she partnered with an NGO she was previously working with, InterMediaKT, to start her Action Project, Dress2code: coding workshops from women to women.
As the project began to take shape, Antonela sent out an open call for any women wanting to learn programming and website design. At first, Antonela was disheartened that women in general did not seem to have much interest in the tech industry. But with patience and commitment to her cause, she found twenty women who wanted to join Dress2code. With the help of other women volunteers and the InterMediaKT facilities and equipment, Antonela began the six-month educational workshops that focused mainly on the content management system (CMS), WordPress, and the coding language C++.
For the moment, we are trying to see if we can make the initiative bigger by adding more languages and reaching out to more learners. (Dress2code Team)
Dress2code was so successful that it continues to have a lasting impact on the community. The volunteer who taught the participants how to use WordPress became so inspired by the initiative that she continued giving workshops and holding talks to inspire even more women to join the tech industry. In October 2019, Antonela prepared a workshop for teenagers, which focused on the contributions of magnificent women in the history of technology, how the world of programming began employing mostly women, and what led to the paradigm shift we are seeing today. Antonela continued trying to find ways to expand the project’s capacity to accommodate more participants and to offer courses in other programming languages as well. Her message to those seeking social progress is to believe in small local changes and not be afraid to ask for help, especially from organizations who specialize in the specific issues that you want to address, as was the case with her Action Project which was generously supported by the local Patras NGO InterMediaKT.