Erin Summers and Zainab Ghadiyali were sure there was a better way.
The two software engineers were en route to grab an afternoon snack after a particularly long meeting when they got to discussing how they thought typical media coverage of women engineers was one-sided. Ghadiyali explained the problem in a Medium post:
“As software engineers, we get asked a lot about what it’s like to be a woman in tech. Are there any horror stories? Have we experienced sexism in school or at work?
“We would much rather be asked about our technical accomplishments and the technology we’ve built.”
Summers says they thought they could do better.
“I was talking to Zainab about this, and we were totally on the same page about the vision,” Summers says. “We wanted to showcase women engineers — from the woman who is new and learning, to the CEO — to show you can learn anywhere in the world and at any age.”
In fact, the very first wogrammer they featured hadn’t yet graduated from high school. Says Summers, “I was a mentor for Girls Who Code … and I decided to interview my mentee, Morgan Lewis. At the beginning of the summer, she said computer programs looked like someone ‘threw a keyboard at the wall to get those words and patterns.’ In just two weeks, Morgan built a mobile app AutoText for location tracking and notification sending.”
With that profile, wogrammer was born. In about a year, Summers and Ghadiyali have featured 46 women programmers from all over the tech industry. Posts focus on the women’s engineering accomplishments, how coding became part of their lives, what they are most proud of building, how they’ve overcome challenges, and advice they have for others who want to learn.
The best part about the project, they say, is the response. Being featured has a ripple effect. Each woman is asked to become involved in a number of projects, which inspires others to get into coding. Summers and Ghadiyali refer to this effect as “secondary connections.”
Above, meet five of the women who’ve held wogrammer’s spotlight and the women who started the program. Then stop by their wogrammer page to get inspired by dozens more who are “breaking stereotypes one story at a time.”
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