Coding & Cupcakes

A program from Kansas City Women In Technology aims to get girls—and their mothers—interested in coding.

As a child, Jennifer Wadella, founder of Kansas City Women in Technology, was always playing with Legos and on the computer, demonstrating an aptitude for building and programming. But nobody encouraged her to pursue a career in technology, she says. It wasn’t until much later, after going to college for graphic design and management and graduating into a difficult economy where she needed to support herself as a freelancer, that she learned to build websites as a way to make her design services more appealing to customers.

“My career really took off, and I started looking for a way to give back to the community and realized that I wasn’t seeing a lot of other women doing what I was doing,” Wadella says. She set out to change that in summer of 2013 when she founded KCWiT, a nonprofit designed to grow the number of women in technology careers in KC and provide networking, educational and mentoring opportunities to those in the field.

Now the organization is working to help get girls involved in the tech world through an event series, Coding & Cupcakes, created in response to the negative views that mothers may have about girls learning to code.

Wadella became aware of the issue when she was traveling around school meetings promoting CoderDojoKC, a program that teaches kids ages 7-17 how to code that KCWiT launched in the community. She found that she was met with pushback, particularly from mothers who said their daughters wouldn’t be interested or that it wasn’t for them.

“I started thinking about what we could do to change that perception that the mothers have that the daughters might not necessarily have,” Wadella says of girls coding, eventually settling on the idea of Coding & Cupcakes, based on an event for moms and daughters held in New York City on Mother’s Day. “I thought it might be a really great way to get women in the door who might see coding as an undesirable female hobby or career path for girls just by making it girly and getting them excited about it that way.”

The three-hour program for moms and daughters is next scheduled for 2-5 p.m. Jan. 9 at Code Koalas. Sessions start with a panel of women mentors discussing how they got into programming, what they love about it and what the fun parts of their job are, then attendees work through a curriculum where they build a website for a cupcake shop using instructions.

Coding & Cupcakes is designed as a way to get girls excited about coding and technology so that they want to learn more through programs like CoderDojo and help moms see that coding is something their daughters can enjoy—and potentially turn into a successful career someday. Women can learn to code on their own during KCWiT’s Coding & Cocktails events.

Get more info and sign up for future Coding & Cupcakes sessions online here.