DevelopHer: Female coders getting ready for the real deal

Ten very promising female IT-talents in Kosovo receive a great opportunity to develop their career chances. DevelopHer provides US based courses in coding and other career related help.

Girls Coding Kosova (GCK), that aims to encourage women to reach their full academic and professional potential in technical fields, is the organization behind DevelopHer. GCK is a network with hundreds of young women till 25 years old. They organize, with the slogan No, this is not my brother’s computer, for example boot camps, workshops, and other kind of trainings. With DevelopHer, they prepare women for a job or to begin their own start-up.

Although coding might seem to be a ‘men thing’, the students of DevelopHer do not experience gender stereotypes from family or others. “There are other problems”, says one of the student, Erblina. “The difficulty is to know where to find yourself in what specific field of computer science you want to work, because the regular education system is very general.” And this is one of the things that DevelopHer can tackle.

Potential of women in Kosovo

But how did it start? Blerta Thaçi, founder of GCK explains: “Several years ago, two American sisters paid a visit to Kosovo. The sisters (who lead the nonprofit organization Flora Stationery) saw the potential of women in Kosovo, but also their difficulty of getting education because of the lack of financial support”, explains Blerta Thaçi of Girls Coding Kosova. “They helped us with a number of projects, and came up with the possibility of funding coding classes. We were very excited with this plan, since we want to further develop the tech skills that women need in their real job. The classes are part of the Coding Dojo platform in Silicon Valley.

According to the students – which are ten in total – they are more prepared for the real stuff. With their regular diploma, they can hardly apply for a job. “While reading a vacancy, you see your own lack of skill and you don’t see yourself working in that specific job”, explains one of them. Therefore, DevelopHer focusses a lot on the practical skills of their students. According to student Edisa, this is a major difference with many other courses in the country. “And they are very expensive for students”, she adds.

‘More competitive in the future’

Innovation Centre Kosovo (ICK) is another important partner. “We are very lucky that we are cooperating with them, because this is a place where a lot of startups and companies in software development work”, says Thaçi of Girls Coding Kosova. ICK executive director Uranik Begu is happy that they can help: “Through its services of mentoring, consulting, incubator, partners and events, ICK will help these participants also in their career, be it on job placement or their possible entrepreneurial path. No society is fully developed without the integration of it population, and female coders will help our business become more competitive in the future.”