Rails Girls is a two-day free workshop that targets women with little to no experience in the field of programming and technology. The goals of the program are to expose as many women as possible to a largely male-dominated industry.

The project held its 14th edition (in Sofia) this year. For 14 consecutive years, this adaptation of this international initiative has contributed a lot to the digital space in Bulgaria.

Background and aims

The project presents a successful approach and training that has introduced many women, previously hesitant, to join the programming and technology sphere. The project mostly promotes 3 of the 4 pillars of the Digital Skills & Jobs Coalition. Mainly, Rails Girls stresses digital skills for all women, as there is an overbearing minority in this field. The main promoter of the event is the focus on education – the event strongly supports teaching and digital skills learning transformation by creating a good environment for an entryway into the digital sphere.

Less dominant is the emphasis on digital skills for the labor force and ICT professionals as the good practice mostly relies on people joining who have had no previous experience in the field. However, with the main goal being introducing more people to the field, in the long term, the project largely contributes to the development and expansion of the digital skills sphere in the country where it is practiced.

In the region and to an extent part of the EU as well, despite some recent policy changes, there is still a large discrepancy between the number of men and women in certain sectors. The rapid development of technology and programming highlights the need to promote women’s roles in the field. Doing so not only fosters equality but also encourages a greater number of individuals to join the sector, ultimately leading to its expansion and presenting new opportunities within the digital landscape.

Why is this a good practice? 

The initiative is so successful because of the approach: the friendly and inspiring environment, as well as the opportunities that occur in it, drive more and more women into joining the initiative. One of the most beneficial things is the duration: people don’t have to sign up for a course that lasts months but instead commit a small portion of their time and give a chance to a new activity that they have always wanted to try out.

In addition, so far this project has carried out 14 editions of the event in the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia, 2 in Varna, 1 in Burgas, and 1 in Vratsa.  This project has been described well on social media and the website, giving more than sufficient information regarding its practice. The goal of the initiative is not to give a detailed programming course; rather, it aims to serve as an introductory stepping stone that women interested in the digital field could use to gain a better perspective and enter the programming sector.

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