Thursday, August 18

Fargo Welcomes Web Development Program for Women

The city of Fargo, North Dakota may be best known as the titular setting of one of the Coen Brother’s most famous films. However, thanks to a new program that will begin offering classes in October, Fargo may soon become known as something more: a hub for female web developers.

Web development, which focuses on the design and creation of websites, is widely considered a thriving, profitable career in the field of information technology. The Bureau of Labor Statistics report that developers earn more than $60,000 and are in high demand, creating an excellent opportunity for qualified job seekers. However, Shannon Luney, a graphic designer from Moorhead, Minnesota reports that 20% or fewer of developers are women. For this reason, Luney and Megan Beck, a fellow graphic designer from Fargo, are working to bring a program called Girl Develop It to the Midwestern city.

Girl Develop It is an international nonprofit organization that offers classes on web and software development. While their classes and workshops are offered to men and women ages 18 and older, they are geared towards women and focus on mentorship and hands-on instruction. The organization began in 2010 but has since expanded to almost 50 cities. While Corinne Warnshuis, Girl Develop It’s executive director, admits that many could study web development online, she says the program creates a social environment many women find appealing. Warnshuis says that the organization’s main goal is to encourage more women to join the technology industry.

Program participants vary in age from 18 to 70, though many are recent college graduates. Regardless of their personal situations, however, the program offers its students opportunities to take advantages of a growing number of career opportunities, including mobile application development and more. At least one woman from Philedelphia who worked as an administrative assistant reportedly became a front-end developer in a year and a half after taking Girl Develop It’s classes.

Luney decided to bring these opportunities to Fargo after learning about the organization at a luncheon held by the American Advertising Federation of North Dakota. Seeing a chance to interest women in coding and programming, she recruited Beck, a recent college graduate, to help her organize a branch. Since then, the pair say that there has been a significant amount of interest in their program, from volunteers and teachers to potential students.

Luney and Beck plan to begin offering classes in October. The beginning of the program will be announced on Girl Develop It Fargo’s Facebook page. Class listings will be posted on www.meetup.com and will range from $9 to $15 an hour. A beginner class typically costs around $90.

Girl Develop It’s work in Fargo and other cities has attracted attention from a number of web developers. (BUSINESS QUOTE Regarding importance of creative web design and a diverse work force/ growing opportunities in the field of web development)

But despite the number of women who are taking Girl Develop It’s program, Warnshuis reports that the male-dominated culture of web development is still a worry for many. Because there are so few women working as developers, she reports that it can be an isolating experience. Many others will report experiencing harassment and even leave their positions. Because of this, Warnshuis says she hopes that by helping to increase the number of women working in the field, she can pave a smoother path for younger generations who seek to enter the industry.

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