WebMuses: Krakow’s Women Get Technical

There are women in IT. Yes, really. Not just designers and managers, but hardcore programmers and basement-type hackers. They don’t want to be treated as mascots or told what to do – they want to lead.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present… WebMuses!

We can do IT!

WebMuses is an initiative started in Krakow in 2012. A bunch of ladies who were very into computers met with another group of ladies who were complete rookies. After many fruitful meetings, they started the Amusing Workshops and organized weekly working groups. These helped numerous female-oriented initiatives and are always looking for new challenges. I asked them for a few words about their project.

Ania: WebMuses was created quite spontaneously, none of us expected it to develop this far. We just wanted to inspire more girls to undertake new challenges, and it seemed to work out pretty well – not to mention the fact that we even managed to get some guys into programming.

WebMuses gets open-minded, passionate women together, asks experienced coaches for assistance and generally provides space, beverages and a positive atmosphere. During their workshops, participants are equipped with a set of skills necessary to shape the Web. Males are welcome too. As is HTML, design, Ruby on Rails or anything that makes your eyes light up.

Wiktoria: When I think about WebMuses I see the faces of the people who come to our workshops. Their curiosity, brightness, and toil, but also their happiness after a success, or a task well done. And it is this joy, these smiles, that make me want to make progress and create something new, something good.

Who do they do it for, and why? For themselves, for their friends, for technical and non-technical people. To raise awareness, to combat prejudice and to have fun. WebMuses are also involved in the Uniwersytet Dzieci (Kids’ University), which works under the patronage of the Jagiellonian University. Basically, you can find these savvy lasses anywhere something important in IT takes place – be it design days, 3D printing parties or start-up community meetings.

Basia: It all started from RailsGirlsKrakow. After that, I hoped that things would change and more women would start programming. I didn’t want to have to hear the ‘guinea pig’ joke any more (“What do a female programmer and a guinea pig have in common? A guinea pig has nothing to do with Guinea or with pigs.”) The girls decided that the situation wouldn’t help itself and that we needed to help those who don’t yet know how much they want to program. That’s why we organise, among other things, courses for 12- and 13-year-olds to help them understand as early as possible that they too can shape the Internet.

Why? Because there are far too few women in the IT industry. WebMuses dream about an ideal world in which any lass can fix her broken laptop or deploy a live (and kickin’!) webpage.

Monika: After the April RailsGirls, I wanted to get some people together to continue learning on our own. I doubted that I could find three eager women, but I found 20! Such was the origin of the working groups. Selfless coaches soon sprung up and helped during our first steps. Since June, more than 50 people have taken part in the meetings. Currently, around 30 people meet more or less regularly and new faces still arrive. Interest in the topic is huge, regardless of gender. The free tickets for the last Amusing Workshop were gone in less than two hours.

Where can you become inspired by the Muses? Check their Facebook profile. The folks from Applicake and Kompany might know a few things too, because they support the initiative. WebMuses are also friends with Google and Spotify.

Julia: In the future, programming will be a natural human behaviour. Right now, many people still see it, wrongly, as a mystery available only to super-intelligent, mega-qualified professionals. WebMuses exists to show that this is not true. We try to create a friendly environment in which anyone can break into the world of IT, feel it on their skin and get caught up.

If you are ready to be inspired, WebMuses are here, in Krakow, to help. All you need is to leave your fear behind and come to their workshop – even if you’re a guy.

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Mirek Wożniak works at Lunar Logic, a ruby-coloured web app shop in Krakow

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