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She Codes celebrates our sixth birthday!

Launching in 2015 as a grassroots movement Perth{Web}Girls, now known as She Codes, was focused on empowering women to code by offering alternate pathways into tech careers by organising free programming workshops and local events. Our goal was (and still is!) to increase the diversity in the tech community, spark collaboration, creativity, and expand networks.

Our weekend workshops ran out of Spacecubed’s first coworking hub, Riff, located at 45 St Georges Terrace and we began to fill the room with like minded women who were just as excited about coding (and cupcakes!) as us. Initially we started as a two day event, with an install-fest and meet and greet on the Friday night before getting stuck into the code on the Saturday. A highlight of 2015 was hosting a livestream between a RailsGirls event in Japan, and our community here in Perth. 

These free, biannual events reached capacity at exponential rates. And as a team built around the community and volunteers, we knew we needed to do more. With some of our first sponsors coming onboard, BHP and Robert Walters, we were excited to have the support of organisations who care about the ecosystem and tech industry in Australia. 

Amanda Hook, one of our very first participants who came to a workshop in 2016, shared that she was looking forward to meeting other women who were interested in coding and the web industry.  I went to Perth{Web} Girls in 2016, mainly in the hopes of figuring out if the web industry is what I wanted to get involved in, but also to meet other women who were interested in the same. I had spent the previous couple of years doing online tutorials and delving on and off in coding. From what I had learnt I enjoyed. PWG was inspiring. Meeting the mentors and talking to other women who were in the same place as me solidified a lot of what I already felt and knew; that the web world is what I wanted to be a part of.”

From 2018 – 2019, {web}Girls hosted events in Perth, Bunbury, Geraldton, Newman, Port Hedland and Karratha. With additional support of New Industries WA, regional iterations of our one day workshops saw over 200 women learn beginner level coding in HTML/CSS, Python, Django and WordPress. 

In spreading the word of our events, we were featured on the radio in Geraldton and Karratha, on TV news in Bunbury, and extensively covered in print news in Perth and surrounds. Including Business News in 2018 discussing our courses and 2019 sharing how we were building pathways for tech. In the West Australian, our founder Kate Kirwin was profiled twice in 2019, once around the Rising Star Awards and again on finding more women for the tech industry. Regionally, the Geraldton Guardian and Pilbara News also covered updates on what we were working on, and how we were able to support regional women with our workshops. 

In May 2019, we announced an exciting partnership with BHP to deliver Plus, a six-month program teaching from beginner level through to internship ready. With funding to run the program in both Perth and Brisbane, our mission and goals slightly shifted. We wanted to inspire, teach, and build a community around tech for women across all of Australia, leading to ongoing career pathways to make a tangible difference to diversity in the tech industry. Our goal was to inspire 100,000 women across Australia by 2025.

And with this lofty goal to inspire thousands of women, demystifying tech and creating pathways, and our old brand Perth Web Girls no longer served that mission. Which is why, She Codes Australia was born! The new name reflected both an expansion in geographical areas, from a focus shifting from only Perth to across Australia, as well as broadening what we do and who we do it for.

Then, in late 2019, with support from the WA State Government and New Industries WA, we announced our one week program, Flash, a tech-taster for women returning to the workforce, wanting to learn a new skill or simply to expand on what they learnt at our workshops. 2019 saw nine one-day workshops hosted across Australia, 250 women apply for the inaugural six-month Plus program, where 23 were welcomed to the graduating stage, as well as 15 women completing our first ever, one week, full time Flash program.

“Our last one day workshop in Perth for 2019 sold out in record time, with 150 tickets gone in just 3 hours, and a waitlist that continued to grow daily.”

So, when we kicked off 2020, we had 3 main programs, our one day workshops, Flash, and Plus. And of course, these programs wouldn’t just be based in Perth, we headed over to Brisbane (pre-pandemic) to launch Plus on the East Coast, as well as across to the WA regions to deliver more one day workshops and Flash for the first time. 

2020 had things in store that none of us could have predicted, but did we continue to kick goals? You bet! 

Both Perth and Brisbane Plus cohorts started off virtually, as lockdown throughout Australia prevented us from being in person, we ran our very first Virtual Coding Party and partnered with CORE Innovation Hub to deliver a second. We collaborated with Purposeful and Visagio to create two different iterations of Flash, teaching young women the opportunities available in STEM, and one with a sole focus in Data Science. Of course, we had our one day workshops running back in person as soon as restrictions allowed, and we even headed back to the regions to run Flash in Port Hedland.

Now, we’ve taught 4,500+ women to date and we’re not stopping there. Happy Birthday to us! Here’s to the next six years.