Megan Anthony of Girl Develop It
(Photo by Luigi Ciuffetelli)
Believe it or not, many of the hottest software and web developers are not traveling across the country for top jobs. Wilmington was named one of the best cities in the country for startups. But men still outnumber women 7–3 in the tech field. Enter Girl Develop It, a nonprofit that provides affordable programs for adult women interested in learning web and software development. Established in New York City in 2010, it now boasts 60,000 members. Wilmington recently became its 53rd location. Megan Anthony, 28, is a co-lead for the chapter and the community manager at 1313 Innovation on Market Street, where classes are held.
DT: How did Girl Develop It start and how did it eventually come to Wilmington?
MA: GDI started in 2010 in New York City by cofounders Vanessa Hurst and Sara Chipps. Hurst realized there was a need for this type of organization when she was going through school and noticed less women going after computer science degrees. The current executive director is Corinne Warnshuis, who resides in Philadelphia. I was taking classes at GDI in Philadelphia, and I had been pushing to bring it to Wilmington. I met Joni Trythall, who was teaching for GDI in Philadelphia, and Pauline Rubin, who was a teacher’s assistant. We were all tired of traveling to Philly for the classes, so we started bugging the heck out of Corinne Warnshuis about having a chapter here. Then AT&T decided to fund us and we were approved to start a chapter in late August. We had our first meet-up in October with 60 guests. Our meet-up currently has 198 people.
DT: Why is GDI important to Wilmington?
MA: GDI is important to Wilmington because there is no other alternative right now to give specifically women an opportunity to learn this skill set in a welcoming and affordable way. Learning to code, build websites and mobile applications creates career mobility in this area. There are so many opportunities within and around Wilmington that require coding experience, whether it’s data science, building a financial technology application and so on. It’s a growing field, and this skill set will continue to be needed in our ever-changing economy. It’s about providing an opportunity to create a better life, a more satisfying career for women—and men—who don’t believe they can afford it or have been intimidated by tech because of their previous experiences.
DT: How does it work?
MA: We try to provide a safe, welcoming environment where women can learn about technology and not be intimidated by tech. We set up classes that are easy to get to and convenient. They only cost $10 per hour per class. We have an introduction to HTML/CSS class that is only 10 hours and can be completed on a weekend. (Hypertext Markup Language/Cascading Style Sheets are the core technologies for creating web pages.) We had an introduction to web concepts class that was only two hours. We want to keep the classes small—less than 25 people—because everyone attending has different skill sets.
DT: What is your background?
MA: My background is in memberships and event planning. I went to Temple University for hospitality management. I worked at the Pyramid Club in center city [Philadelphia] in member retention. One of the members mentioned 1313 Innovation to me. When I discovered GDI in Philadelphia and started taking classes, I really loved it.
DT: How many people are involved in the Wilmington chapter?
MA: Joni Trythall is the other co-lead. Dominique Clarke and Pauline Rubin are both instructors. We are still pulling instructors from the Philadelphia chapter, so we are looking for local people interested in teaching.
DT: What is your demographic?
MA: We have women of all ethnicities, women in their 20s and 30s and some in their 50s. Some women want to learn how to code, while others just want to feel more secure in their jobs.
DT: Why do you think an organization like this is important?
MA: What I’ve learned from GDI has impacted me in such a positive way. One of our organizers is a front-end developer at The Archer Group (a digital media company in Wilmington), and she learned all her skills at GDI. This is also a nice transition into another career. It’s a career where you don’t have to spend 80 hours at the office. You can have a nice work-life balance. Some of the most promising jobs out there are those involving code. It’s important to have that foundation. If you have that, you can do anything.
For more information, visit Girl Develop It’s website.