Sunday, April 22, 2012

Indianapolis Python Workshop for women and their friends - the results

This April 13-14, Mel Chua, Jessica McKellar, and I ran the first annual Indianapolis Python Workshop for women and their friends... and I loved it!

We borrowed our curriculum (not to mention Jessica) from the Boston workshop, and the time they've put into fine-tuning it really shows. The participants varied from absolute first-time programmers to computer science graduate students, but the materials did a great job of not leaving anybody behind.

I chatted with a few of the participants about their backgrounds and motivations for coming, and I was fascinated by the diversity among them. One woman was re-entering the programming workforce after a decade away. One was an artist and designer of 3D games who wanted to learn to script her favorite gaming engine. One was the business manager for an IT firm who wanted a deeper understanding of the nuts and bolts of her own company. And, of course, several were students, from high school through graduate school.

We had roughly 20 participants, plus assistants from IndyPy, and the classroom dynamics were great. Usually, when running an IT event, I strain to convince the participants on to work together. Far too many programmers tend to struggle along in private silence, each at their own machine, which ruins the point of having a group learning event in the first place. Not our workshop students, though! They did a wonderful job of grouping up and helping each other out. I loved the sound of students teaching each other and laughing with each other. We had lots to teach and we worked them hard, but they met the challenge with enthusiasm and teamwork. I'm really looking forward to seeing them again at IndyPy's project night on May 8.

We have many thanks to give! Thanks to the Python Software Foundation and FewerHassles for their financial support; to DirectEmployers for their logistical help; to Indiana LinuxFest for providing a locale; and to the Boston Python Workshop for sending Jessica and all her experience. Mel and I are looking forward to keeping the ball rolling with more workshops in Indianapolis and elsewhere in the Midwest. Please contact <mpw-staff at> if you'd like to help make it happen.