Code and Coffee: Casual Coworking for Women in Tech

February 9, 2015

11:00 am

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The Washington D.C. Metro Area is full of dozens of organizations dedicated to lowering the barrier for women and minorities in tech. DCFemTech, a collective of DC & Metro area women and minority focused organizations is launching a series of interviews with women in tech leaders to highlight their group’s mission, culture and events. The goal is to help women and minorities navigate the local tech scene to find a group that best fits their needs.

This week, we interviewed Elaine Ayo and Sonia Hinson, co-organizers of Code & Coffee.

Code and Coffee is a casual event to cowork with fellow local women in tech.
Several women in the local DC tech community came together to organize Code & Coffee. Code & Coffee is hosted bi-weekly. Women are encouraged to bring their own projects and laptops for a fun, informal way to learn, code, and work on projects with other members in the community. From Ruby on Rails and Javascript, to CodeAcademy and HTML/CSS, these events are open to all women or those who support women and minorities in tech. These events are held at public coffee shops, so good seats are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Beginners welcome and encouraged to come dive in.

From biomedical engineers to startup founders and women just beginning their coding journey, Code & Coffee is meant to appeal to women from novice to master.
Women come to our events with various backgrounds that range from IT professionals to women learning how to build their first website. In fact, we have women from different skill levels and women in tech organizations such as Women Who Code DC, Ladies Who Code DC, Rails Girls DC, Hear Me Code, GirlDevelopIt DCPyLadies DC and more. Feel free to come early or stay later.

These events aim to lower the barriers to entry to tech for women by offering weekend hours and different locations to be inspired to keep pursuing their technical goals.
Anywhere from 5-20 women come to our events at various coffee shops, such as Compass Coffee in Shaw and Cosi in Rosslyn. It is very casual! You should bring your own project or course material to work on. Even though we are working, everyone is still willing to chat and answer questions. It is relaxed and there’s no commitment required; you can stay as long as you like and come as often as you want.

Code & Coffee is another way for women to get more experience in a supportive and collaborative environment.
One of the big benefits of our events is the motivation women get to continue coding. It is hard learning to code on your own and half the battle is consistently putting aside time to work on projects. The events attract a wide array of participants, from professional programmers to folks experimenting in their spare time. Code & Coffees are not coding workshops: no instructors, no agenda, and no lesson plan; these events are very informal so ladies will usually bring their own projects or meet people who are working on similar projects to collaborate together. If you’re a beginner we recommend some online tutorials like Codecademy or General Assembly Dash. The hope is that you will find ladies who are learning similar coding languages and projects to work with or ask questions.

We’re always looking to find local coffee shops or buildings with open seats and solid Wi-Fi. Let us know if you’d like to help us host one of these events.
Co-organizers of Code & Coffee include Elaine Ayo, Sonia Hinson, Lai Wei, Judy Jow and Jessie Link. We each rotate responsibilities and get to choose the venue, and we try to choose different neighborhoods each time. We have a growing list of coffee shops we know have solid Wi-Fi; however, at one event, we had about 15 women show up and we overloaded the Wi-Fi. While no one could get online, everyone was still in good spirits as they got to know each other and shared resources along with other meetups to check out. This small hiccup motivated us to make sure we found reliable places to host.

If you have an idea for somewhere we can host with good Wi-Fi and an outlet or two, we would love to hear it! Please send us an email at [email protected]. To stay tuned about future Code and Coffee events, they are posted through the Women Who Code DC Meetup and @DCFemTech on Twitter.

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Stephanie is Lead Designer and co-founder of Landmark, a navigation app for walking directions based on photos of buildings and landmarks. Stephanie was a guest at Y Combinator’s prestigious Female Founders Conference and was profiled in The Washington Post. Actively involved in the DC community, she is a co-producer of the DC Tech Meetup and is actively involved in encouraging technology education and mentorship for women. Follow her on Twitter @nguyenist.

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