Last updated Sept. 19, 2018, 5 p.m.

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Title: Django Girls Blog Main Feed

Recent Posts
Your Django Story: Meet Marcella Wijngaarden

This is a post in our Your Django Story series where we highlight awesome ladies who work with Django. Read more about it here.

A brief biography, two to three sentences, about who you are, where you’re from, and the work you do.

My name is Marcella (25) and I grew up in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. My family is from Curacao (a beautiful island in the Caribbean that was a former Dutch colony and is still part of the Dutch Kingdom). I like science and studied to be a physicist. Currently, I am doing postgraduate research in theoretical/computational astrophysics in Southampton (UK) and am running Project Cece: an online search engine for fair and sustainable fashion.

How did your story with code start?

I never thought coding would be for me and stayed well clear of it in high school. But during my study in Physics and Astronomy coding was part of the mandatory curriculum. Unexpectedly, after some time, it turned out that I really enjoy it and I chose to do a minor in programming.

What do you love the most about coding?

Coding is often seen as a technical skill. But I really like that it allows for a lot of creativity. There is no one way to design a piece of code and you can use all your creativity to find which approach fits a particular problem best. Also you can be creative in deciding what to code and I find that incredibly deliberating and empowering. Want to make games? Do science? Make software, tools or websites that can improve lives? In a sense, it is all at your fingertips.

Coding  has a bit of a stigma that it is a difficult *technical* skill. But I don’t think writing code is a lot more technical than writing text. Sure, you need to know some basics and learn a code language, but that is not so different from learning the alphabet, grammar and vocabulary when you are learning a new spoken/written language. It mostly requires practice. I think the ultra technical image of coding can be discouraging to people who do not consider themselves technical (even though they might actually be!), as it was in my case. I hope more people will see that there is more to coding than technicalities.

Why Django?

I learned Python in my undergraduate courses and used it primarily for scientific problems. For example, to model the orbits of planets in the solar system, or to do a statistical analysis of the likelihood for finding planets that could be habitable, or to model simple quantum systems. Later, I chose courses from the Programming Minor, where I learned to make web visualizations and learned the basics of webscraping. Since I felt most comfortable working with Python, it made a lot of sense to use Django when I wanted to build a web project. Also, the Django slogan just perfectly describes what I needed: ‘For perfectionists with deadlines’.

What cool projects are you working on at the moment/planning on working on in the near future?

From experience I know that it is easier to see problems and complain about them, than it is to stand up for something or work on solutions. The clothing industry is one of the most polluting and exploiting industries in the world, and we are all contributing to it when buying clothes. My sister (Melissa Wijngaarden), a friend (Noor Veenhoven) and I learned about this, but still found it difficult to find ‘fair’ clothing even though a lot of non-mainstream brands are out there doing good work. We decided it should not be so hard to find fair and sustainable alternatives and, since we knew a bit of programming, that we could actually make something that could make it easier!

So we built and launched Project Cece (www.projectcece.nl). Using automatic webscrapers, we collect all the sustainable and fair trade clothing that is offered in different webshops on one website. This way, consumers can go to one website to find fair clothing alternatives, instead of having to browse through multiple (often small) webshops. We built this website from scratch in Django. It was my first Django project and I made extensive use of the excellent Django Girls tutorials, which I recommend to everybody! At the moment Project Cece is only available for the Netherlands and Germany, but we are working on expanding it to other countries soon.

What are you the most proud of?

Getting out of my comfort zone. A few years ago, I never thought I could be an astrophysicist, or an entrepreneur or a developer.

What are you curious about?

How things work, mostly (in no particular order of complexity): The universe, humans, cats.

Do you have any advice/tips for programming beginners?

Don’t think coding is not for you based on the image of programming or programmers you might have. Ask for help and be proud for doing so! It is perfectly okay to be discouraged and frustrated sometimes, I am pretty sure everybody is and it can actually be a way to improve on a personal level as well.


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2018-09-19T17:00:40Z
Your Django Story: Meet Stephanie Sydorko

This is a post in our Your Django Story series where we highlight awesome ladies who work with Django. Read more about it here.

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A brief biography, two to three sentences, about who you are, where you’re from, and the work you do.

I am a Python developer at Artemis Consulting, an IT services consulting firm in Washington, DC. I switched careers from conference management to programming in 2014. For the last three and a half years I have been on a contract at the Library of Congress, where I develop RESTful APIs and ETL processes using Python, Django, and Django Rest Framework.

How did your story with code start?

I organized conferences and tradeshows in my previous role. My job involved many repetitive manual tasks on the computer, such as cleaning attendee lists for badge printing, and downloading and parsing data to create spreadsheets and reports. I had a friend show me how to do some simple automation using Greasemonkey for web forms, and VBA and Python for Excel and Access. I was hooked! I loved the idea of automating tedious work. I did some self-study and online courses, then decided to return to George Mason University to pursue an MSCS. Once I completed my degree, I began applying for IT positions.

What did you do before becoming a programmer?

I have always been interested in science and math. I graduated with a BS in Physics, started graduate school in Atmospheric Science, and then dropped out because the program wasn’t a good fit. After that I worked as a secretary and in conference management before I decided to switch careers and go back to school for Computer Science. I think my previous jobs help me as a developer because I have great time management and organizational skills, learned to be a good listener, and have experience working with diverse groups of people.

What do you love the most about coding?

I love logic and problem solving, and I still get excited when I find a bug or figure out a tricky bit of code.

Why Django?

I switched from Java and Spring MVC to Python and Django. Django has fantastic documentation and is a full-featured framework with serious thought behind its design. I learned Django on the job using the official tutorial, the Django Girls tutorial, and a great book called Test-Driven Development with Python. It’s a great web framework because I can use vanilla Django to build a full-stack dynamic website, or add any number of open-source packages to extend its functionality for more complicated projects. The online community is active and helpful. My favorites are the Django ORM and Django Rest Framework, which is a package that extends Django for API development.

What are you the most proud of?

I am very proud of becoming a female developer in my mid-thirties. It was a hard transition that took a few years, and I wanted to give up many times during the process. I had some seriously misguided people tell me I wouldn’t be able to do it because of my age and gender. I also met some great cheerleaders along the way who believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. I pushed through the challenges with planning, persistence, and hard work. I teared up when I received my first IT job offer because I felt like I had finally accomplished what I set out to do.

What are you curious about?

How do we change the STEM education pipeline and the IT industry so that inclusivity and diversity are the norm? I get that not everyone wants to be in IT, but people should be able to say “no” to the field because they want to do something else - not because it makes them uncomfortable.

I believe this is a complicated, multi-faceted issue that will take the time and effort of many to resolve. On the plus side, there is so much to do that individuals can pick a project or organization that interests them, and start contributing to make a difference right now. I’m curious to see how the industry will look in a decade. I hope we’ll see a positive trend.

What do you like doing in your free time? What’s your hobby?

I like to volunteer. One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2018 was to get involved in organizations that encourage women to pursue programming. I have been volunteering with Hear Me Code, Women Who Code DC, and have signed up to help with this year’s Django Girls DC workshop. It’s been incredibly rewarding to help women get started on their programming adventure!

I love knitting and participating in community art projects. I’ve collaborated on giant donuts and done some chalk art for neighborhood festivals.

I also try to rock climb. I’m terrible, but it’s still fun.

Do you have any advice/tips for programming beginners?

Learning to program is hard, and that’s OK! Be tenacious and practice, practice, practice.

Also, programming is for everyone! Don’t listen to negative people who think you aren’t good enough or the right gender, age, personality, background, or fill-in-the-blank to write code. The only requirement is that you are interested and willing to put in the effort.

- How did attending (organizing, or coaching!) a Django Girls workshop influence your life/career? What did you get out of attending (organizing, or coaching) a Django Girls workshop?

I will help coach my first Django Girls workshop in September. The program for the day looks awesome. I am very excited to get involved with Django Girls DC.


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2018-09-10T17:00:41Z
Meet our amazing crowdfunding supporters!

This year we ran a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo’s Generosity website with the aim of raising US $10,000 to help us cover our operation and staff costs. We managed to raise $13,314 from 147 donors - 133% of our original goal. We would like to thank everyone who supported us by spreading the word about our campaign as well as donate to our cause.

We are very grateful for the tremendous support we got from the tech community. We would especially like to thank everyone who helped us reach our target by donating. We had various reward levels starting from $5 to $300 but we still had many donors who gave above the reward levels despite missing out on the reward. For this, we are very grateful.

We have published a list of our donors here . Thank you so much for supporting us. Your support means the world to us and we hope you will keep supporting our work.

To find out more about our crowdfunding supporters, please visit this web page.

Thank you all for supporting our work<3!


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2018-08-01T17:00:43Z
Your Django Story: Marion Magné

This is a post in our Your Django Story series where we highlight awesome ladies who work with Django. Read more about it here. 

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A brief biography, two to three sentences, about who you are, where you’re from, and the work you do.

My name is  Marion, I pursued a degree in Cognitive Sciences and Psychology in Paris then a Masters degree in Public Health with a specialisation in Computer Science Applied to the Medical Field in Bordeaux. I a from France. I currently work as an intern in Technical Support for a company which create software for hospitals, and will work as a Programmer in this same company starting in September.

How did your story with code start?

I started to have an interest in code in high school but didn’t give it much thoughts. I had been told that you had to be good in mathematics, and I majored in literature. After my license in Psychology (three years of college), I intended to pursue a master degree in the field but I wasn’t happy with it. I took a year to explore my interests. I mostly worked as an English and literature teacher, and tried different things. I discovered Django Girls, took some online classes about Computer Science, and found out that I loved it and, more important, was actually pretty good at it. I found out that the university in Bordeaux offered a Masters degree in Public Health, available to many undergraduate majors including my Psychology degree, and which offered a specialisation in Computer Science Applied to Health Field - so I applied!

What did you do before becoming a programmer?

I attended college to become a psychologist and worked as a tutor.

What do you love the most about coding?

It’s very logical. It works a bit like a spoken language with its own structure. And you have to specify everything. It’s kind of a teaching process actually: you have to be very specific about what you want your code to do. And seeing what you build work and be used is really satisfying. 

Why Django?

I am a feminist, and I loved the idea of giving women the same opportunity as men, and encouraging them to try something they have never really considered before. The fact that they didn’t ask for any programming experience was a plus. I was among the beginners, and did not feel judged at all.

What cool projects are you working on at the moment/planning on working on in the near future?

I am trying to organise workshop about cyber-security to inform people about the risks and how to protect their personal information. And since I’m graduating this summer, I am looking forward to start my career as a junior programmer this fall.

What are you the most proud of?

I tried, even though the odds were not really in my favour. I thought that the worst they could tell me was no. I applied at my college, it worked. I applied as an intern in a software editing company, it worked. And applied to a position as a junior programmer even though I have only started programming a couple of years ago and I got the job!

What are you curious about?

Everything. We hear a lot about big data these days, so I would love to know more about it. And feminism. Sciences in general. And cat behaviour, but mostly to understand why mine chases my mousepad.

What do you like doing in your free time? What’s your hobby?

I read a lot, these days mostly science fiction and essays. I watch TV shows, I play Magic: The Gathering and board games with my friends and colleagues. Classic nerd stuff. And I am part of a french feminist webzine.

Do you have any advice/tips for programming beginners?

Forget what you have been told about. You do not have to be a video game fan since age 5, you do not have to have a degree in Mathematics, and men in this field are not all that bad. I actually have great colleagues who help me progress.

How did attending (organizing, or coaching!) a Django Girls workshop influence your life/career? What did you get out of attending (organizing, or coaching) a Django Girls workshop?

I grew more confident about my programming skills. You can not teach what you do not understand. And it actually gave me good arguments during my interview for a Programmer position! And ideas, too. Why not teach programming in a few years?

Thank you so much, Marion!

If you would like to suggest someone is featured in the Your Django Story series (or would like to nominate yourself!), please email us at story@djangogirls.org!


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2018-07-31T17:00:51Z
Your Django Story: Nazirini Siraji

This is a post in our Your Django Story series where we highlight awesome ladies who work with Django. Read more about it here.

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A brief biography, two to three sentences, about who you are, where you’re from, and the work you do.

I am Nazirini Siraji from Mbale, found in the Eastern part of Uganda. Besides being an organiser of Django Girls Mbale, I work as a software developer at Hansu Mobile Innovations for both web and mobile development.

How did your story with code start?

Back in 2015, I attended my first Django Girls workshop where I got to learn the basics of Python and how amazing and easy it was to use. I then created my first blog and deployed it.

What did you do before becoming a programmer?

I was a student who spent most of the time during her computer lesson wondering what more I could do with the machine.

What do you love the most about coding?

What I love most about coding  is that it challenges me to learn a new concept everyday to solve something different or even the same thing in a different way.

Why Django?

Django is open source, very easy to learn and opens your mind to learn more and discover what more it can do.

What cool projects are you working on at the moment/planning on working on in the near future?

We are building an E-commerce website step by step with the participants from our last Django Girls workshop. This project will help prepare them for other projects that they plan to work on after learning most of the core concepts of Django and Python.

What are you the most proud of?

The fact that I am one of the people that introduced Django to some awesome ladies who are now already taking the next step in web development.

What are you curious about?

How far  the world would be in terms of technological advancement if all software was open sourced?

What do you like doing in your free time? What’s your hobby?

I like watching cool videos of awesome things people do in and plan to do with technology. I also love nature so I get to visit some amazing places from time to time.

Do you have any advice/tips for programming beginners?

Explore all the options in attempting to archive something and pick the best option.

Learn step by step, don’t rush to learn it all at once.

Get a mentor and join a community of those like you so you can easily ask for guidance when you get stuck.

Apply for online courses and get to learn more from it.

Appreciate and get inspired by what others have accomplished.

Set goals and work everyday to move close to those goals.

How did attending (organizing, or coaching!) a Django Girls workshop influence your life/career? What did you get out of attending (organizing, or coaching) a Django Girls workshop?

Coaching at a Django Girls event has taught me the importance of preparing fully beforehand because other people will expect you to solve all the challenges they face when the right time comes.

Organizing a Django event has given me the ability to derive quality from those around me in an attempt to deliver the best output.

Thank you so much, Nazirini!

If you would like to suggest someone is featured in the Your Django Story series (or would like to nominate yourself!), please email us at story@djangogirls.org!


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2018-07-25T17:00:30Z
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