“Girls create the Internet!” was our slogan for this year’s Girls’ Day that took place on April 28th.
The Girls’ Day is a large campaign which has already existed for about 15 years and targets young girls aged 10 and upwards: Tech companies open their doors for one day to allow young girls to get an impression of professions that traditionally have a low representation of women.
I (Christin Westermann) remember when I was young, that it was a special day where most girls would accompany their dads to work. In my case, that meant to get up at 6 am in the morning which was not so cool. But luckily my dad worked as an electrician in a potato chips and cookie factory at the time, so that compensated for getting up early.
On the Girls’ Day at Scout24 we first and foremost wanted to show the girls what it means to be a Software Engineer. But we also wanted to introduce them to the roles of the Product Owner, Scrum Master and UX-Designer. But let’s start at the beginning.
Very school like, the day started quite early. At 9 in the morning 12 girls gathered at a small breakfast in the ImmobilienScout canteen. After a short introduction the girls got a crash course introduction on Agile and Scrum concepts by Sebastian Nachtigall, introducing a lot of new words and ideas the kids probably hadn’t heard before: Agile, Scrum, Sprint, Retrospective. Still a little shy and seemingly overwhelmed the girls barely dared to ask any questions at that point. After that, we continued with an office tour where one main stop was attending an engineering team’s daily standup meeting so that the girls could see in action what they had just learned about Scrum and Agile. After that we borrowed the team’s Product Owner, Claudia Barby for a little interview on the profession.
After the office tour we dived right into the practical side of things with the web workshop: The idea was to let them work in pairs and get into some programming themselves. First, an introduction to HTML5 by Myrtha Fuog was scheduled, followed by an introduction to CSS3 basics by Christin Westermann. The girls worked on our computers but providing them with their own USB-Stick that contained prepared learning materials and a portable editor enabled them to keep working on a device-independent basis. By having them create their files on the sticks, we wanted to ease and encourage that the girls would continue their workshop projects at home for sustained learning. The workshops were filled by quite some “ooooh”s and “aaaah”s which was satisfying for both, participants and coaches alike. It was a joy to see how the girls immersed themselves in the creation of their very first website. The fact that we barely managed to convince them to get off the computers for lunch break speaks for itself.
One main goal of the workshop was to have the girls author a small HTML snippet to be hosted on http://immobilienscout24.github.io/girls-day/berlin.html as a final result of the workshop. They were to come up with a short introduction of themselves or any other content for this. A short introduction to versioning control with Git and GitHub by Maximilien Riehl enabled the girls, with the help of their coaches, to add their content to the website’s Git repository where the final results can now be seen.
The day ended with a short retrospective where the girls were asked what they liked about the day, what they had learned, what had surprised them and also what they thought could be improved at a future Girls’ Day. To our great delight, they generally agreed on having enjoyed the day immensely. Apart from the highly popular kicker tables that they had made extensive use of during lunch break, several girls pointed out that they had loved the programming part and advised us to make more time for this on a future event.
Why do we care about the Girl’s Day?
Scout24, consisting of AutoScout24 and ImmobilienScout24, is a big tech company with more than 200 employees working in tech. As such, we are one of the big players and want to take the social responsibility that comes with this seriously. Thus, at Scout24 we care about campaigns like the Girls’ Day. We believe that it is a great way to provide inspiration and insight to young girls who are about to decide on the professional path they want to pursue after school. By promoting a better understanding of tech related jobs, we believe that such campaigns contribute to a more diverse tech world.
What did we learn?
It was the second time the Girls’ Day was planned and carried out at ImmobilienScout24. This time, however, the event was set up as a OneScout project, with close cooperating between AutoScout24 in Munich and ImmobilienScout24 in Berlin. This was sometimes challenging from an organisational point of view, but an overall satisfying experience in the end, fostering cross-locational collaboration in the process.
For the next Girls’ Day we want to improve some aspects. One thing that was very clear from the girls’ feedback: They wanted to have more time to work on their websites! So providing more room to freely experiment with what they had learnt during the workshops and not squeezing too much (technical) input into a limited amount of time is a key take away for future events. We feel that the most important goal should be getting the girls excited and spark their interest in (web) programming so that, in the best case, they want to further pursue the topic on their own. One idea for the future might be to offer a follow up workshop day for those interested in continuing working on their projects and diving deeper into the world of web development.
We want to thank Maximilien Riehl, Katrin Kern, Sebastian Nachtigall, Maya Krey, Gro Geert-Jørgensen and Britta Reiners who participated in planning and carrying out this day. Furthermore Konstantin Breu, Florian Stefan and Alexander Gollnick were a great help by serving as coaches during the workshop and answering the girls’ many questions. All in all, it was an awesome event to be part of both as an organizer and, according to the girls’ positive feedback, a participant.
About the authors
Christin Westermann joined ImmobilienScout24 in the beginning of 2015 working as a software engineer. In March 2015 she became one of the founders of the Diversity in Tech Community at ImmobilienScout24. This community is dedicated to diversify the IT at Scout24 by creating awareness for the topic or carrying out workshops on recruiting and other related topics.
Myrtha Fuog joined ImmobilienScout24 in 2015 as a working student and recently finished writing her master thesis on “Near-duplicate Image Retrieval for detecting Image Copyright Infringement in Online Real Estate Ads” and engaged in the Diversity in Tech Community to help organizing this year’s Girls’ Day.