Women in Tech Interview Series: Misty Melton from Girl Develop It DC

December 8, 2014

8:00 am

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 present 5 exciting facts about Girl Develop It based on our interview with Misty Melton, who is founder of both the Girl Develop It Baltimore & Girl Develop It Washington D.C. chapters.

Girl Develop It has 37 chapters across the U.S. and Canada.
Girl Develop It is a national non-profit whose mission is to bring more adult women into tech, specifically web development, through hands-on coding classes and mentorship. The organization was founded with the original New York City chapter in 2010. Our Washington D.C. chapter launched in April 2014.

Their focus is on beginner, hands-on web development classes.
Our core curriculum is HTML, CSS and Javascript, but we try to put together classes and workshops for any topic there is demand in the community for and that we have a teacher for. We’ll happily teach anything tech-related if we have a teacher for it! We also work in professional development classes such as tech resume writing and salary negotiation workshops to help bridge the gap from gaining tech skills to entering a tech career. We rely on donated space for our classes so they’re held in a variety of locations in the DC area. We’re extremely lucky to have some incredibly generous venue sponsors.

Members span from teenagers to older women looking for a career change and new skills.
Our membership and their motivations for learning to code are diverse. They range from college students wanting to explore coding without a large financial or time commitment to women in adjacent fields such as design or working for a tech company in a non-technical role that want to further their skills and career to older women looking for a career change and new skills. We see a variety of others as well, such as stay-at-home moms looking for skills to re-enter the workforce or entrepreneurs looking to develop the skills needed to make an app idea come to life. Personally I would greatly love to see more parents engaged in learning to code to then be able to pass that knowledge on to their kids and perhaps in programs at their children’s schools.

The teachers, organizers and venue are powered by the local community.
We need teachers, teacher assistants, and organizers to ensure our classes and events run smoothly and provide value to the students. We rely on venue and food sponsors for space and food/drinks for classes. While most of our help is on a volunteer basis, we pay our teachers and organizers a portion of the class fees. Their roles are the most time intensive and require the most effort, and we want to ensure quality teachers and organizers have incentive to keep working with us. We are currently in the process of working to build a leadership team beyond our two chapter leaders. We would love to hear from anyone interested in organizing classes or social events or teaching regularly for us. We are also working to build a scholarship fund for our DC students. While the cost of our classes is low compared to other options, our class fees are still a barrier to some. We would love to remove that barrier entirely.

Events are open and welcome to everyone.
We believe in order to achieve the inclusiveness we’re striving for we have to have everyone in the equation, including men. We can not achieve a culture of inclusiveness by being exclusive. Our efforts and our mission are focused on providing a welcoming and supportive environment in which women can learn, but we do not exclude men. We welcome all who are willing to abide by our code of conduct.

Girl Develop It is always looking for organizers for classes and events. If you are interested or have any questions, email misty@girldevelopit.com. To stay posted with the latest, follow @GirlDevelopItDC and join their Meetup page for contact information and links to upcoming events.


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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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