We were able to sneak Monkey into the day-long Young Coders Tutorial at PyTennessee, the nascent Python programming conference in town. She came in just under the wire twice. A spot opened up on Twitter at the last moment and the age limit for the class was 12. Luckily, round(Monkey.age, 0) == 12.
Mommie2zs was nervous to see her girl, all by herself alone at a conference with 275 mostly male coders. Daddy2zs was confident in the gentility and helpfulness of Python programmers. A unfortunate misunderstanding at a conference a year ago has led to conduct policies with real muscle and self-reflection about being a welcoming community.
Monkey wants to be a coder. She was a pig in mud at the conference, a boisterous lover of learning. She had taken Code Academy classes as well as a Minecraft programming class. We had a tasty lunch together midway through, and bubbled “I’m loving this.” She stalked the halls with confidence and looked like she belonged. At the end of the day, she tried to crack the ribs of her instructor with a giant hug.
The real best part? Committed people addressing a real problem. PyTennessee embraced diversity. 50% of the Young Coders were young ladies and women made up 10-15% of the PyTN attendees. That’s not a huge number, but more than average. 29% of AP Computer Science test takers in Tennessee were girls. This is the highest rate in the US. Why’s it so high? One killer teacher at a all-girls school in Chattanooga had 30 students take the test. One person can make a difference.
So what was the best part for Zoe? Owning her own tiny computer (all the participants got a Respberry Pi)? Spending the day conferencing–a most adult activity? Time from Dad? Her favorite part of Young Coders was when the whole class had to dig in and fix two bugs in games caused by interactions between the Raspberry Pi and sound output. That’s good, because fixing bugs is what coders young and old do.