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Girls-only coding class looks to increase female tech startup presence

12 Sep 2013
Codefirst Girls aims to get more females into the UK's tech startup sector

A free course set up to encourage more women to get into the UK's tech startup scene has expanded to six of the UK's top universities.

Code First: Girls was set up in late 2012 as a nine-week, free, part-time course to get female graduates from all walks of life not only interested in coding, but also better equipped to contribute to technical discussions in high-tech businesses.

Following a successful first run, a condensed version of the course – which focuses on key skills involving Sinatra, Rails and Ruby as well as using communities like GitHub – will be available for students at Oxford, Cambridge, London School of Economics, University College London, Warwick and Imperial College.

Alice Bentinck, co-founder of startup accelerator scheme Entrepreneur First, told V3 that even this short course could make a big difference to the working lives of young women in tech startups. "We find that more and more girls are coming to us with ideas, but they have no idea how to put them into practice," she explained. "Code First is giving them the understanding of what is possible and how long things take to make."

Chloë Donegan, one of the Code First: Girls 2013 cohort, said that her experience of working in a tech startup was a challenge, simply because she was unable to take matters into her own hands when it came to product development. "It was frustrating that I couldn't make simple changes to the website or product without asking someone. I also felt a bit left out because I couldn't contribute to discussions," she said.

She added: "I found it incredible that these tech guys could have an idea of how to solve a problem, and a few days later, there it would be."

The courses will be available for students this academic year.

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Michael Passingham

Michael Passingham joined V3 as a reporter in June 2013. Prior to working at V3, Michael spent time at computing magazine PC Pro. Michael covers IT skills, social media, tech startups and also produces V3's video content.

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