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Teaching women to program: our duty

In the last ten years our society has become highly digitised, and so has the Brussels-Capital Region. New developments come one after the other at rapid pace, which enriches the lives of many. But for some population groups the opposite is true: because they know little about technology and IT, the digital revolution has an isolating effect on them.

Gender also plays a role. Unfortunately, women leave their mark on the digital world much less than men. They represent only 7% of all ICT employees in Belgium, a striking figure that the digital sector cannot or should not ignore. As Michelle Obama said in 2016 during a speech for the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton:


“The measure of any society is how it treats its women and girls.


As a digital umbrella organisation within the region, Bedigital wanted to set a good example!

That is why last October we organised free programming workshops for women in collaboration with the BRIC and Brussels Smart City. The initiative took place within the context of the Women Code Festival, which benefited from the cooperation of many private and public organisations. The result? A grand event with a range of interesting, educational and stimulating programming workshops and training courses for women.

In this article we want to zoom in on the above free introductions to programming, which took place in five different Public Computer Rooms (PCRs) in the region, in particular in Uccle, the City of Brussels, Ixelles, Saint-Gilles and Molenbeek. The workshop, which introduced programming with games and user-friendly applications, was a resounding success – not only were they completely full, but afterwards the participants also unanimously agreed: such workshops are an excellent way for women to get to know the world of programming better. They were also very satisfied with the enthusiastic teachers from Fobagra, the non-profit organisation that provided the training courses.

It goes without saying that Bedigital and the BRIC were very happy with the turnout, which proves that women are indeed interested in ICT training and programming, but that for them the path towards it is more complex and therefore needs to be indicated more clearly. This is, among other things, a question of commitment, encouragement and visibility. In the future, the region will therefore continue to organise this type of initiative. Bedigital will surely be part of it!