How Geek Women Are Becoming Great Coders in Merida
Her name is Grisel Ancona, she just finished her undergraduate studies in Software Engineering at UADY, and she is co-founder of the Women Who Code initiative in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico.
She hadn’t even finished her studies as a software engineer, but her drive and passion for programming have led her to become one of the most influential people when it comes to software development in Merida, a city in southeastern Mexico.
Meet the future of programming made by women, her name is Grisel Ancona, a senior undergraduate student from UADY (Yucatan’s Autonomous University).
She now works as a project manager at Yellowme, a software development company in Merida, her hometown, and is also one of the co-founders of Women Who Code, Chapter Merida.
Ancona got interested in Women Who Code around June 2014, when she heard about it for the first time from a colleague and friend, Viviana Palacios, who lives in Colima, a city in Western Mexico located more than 2 thousand kilometers away from Merida.
What is Women Who Code?
It is a non-profit organization dedicated to inspire women to excel in technology careers based in San Francisco, USA., with a presence in 15 countries and counting as local initiatives.
Ancona became passionate with the idea of starting this initiative in her hometown, because it would help women in programming and technology — a field that is almost exclusive for men — to get noticed, and she was more than excited to take the first steps toward making this happen.
Back in my university there were not that many girls to talk to, maybe two in my class, since most of the students were boys.
Ancona contacted the organization’s CEO, Alaina Percival, to find out about the requirements to start the group from zero.
Percival told Ancona that she, as director of the initiative, was fully responsible for the group, so Ancona managed to dedicate time and commitment to the project while still taking classes.
A few months later, she had an interview with Neal Brown, Chief of Staff at Women Who Code, to prove that she had the proper credentials to take part in the organization.
Ancona exceedingly convinced the crowd back in San Francisco that she had a really deep interest in helping women in Merida strive in technology and that she would give her best effort to keep it like that.
Finally, on October 4th 2014, Grisel Ancona and co-founder Yuceli Polanco, announced the official start of the Women Who Code initiative in Merida. She says that the initiative has not only helped women, students and professionals alike, interested in programming, but also has brought different ideas and voices to converge in a women-friendly environment.
It is great to meet other girls through this initiative; you can make new friends and connect with people from other fields of knowledge.
Ancona also says that this initiative has become important for the women involved because it offers them a friendly place where they can gather to share and acquire new skills and experiences in computer programming, which they can later use to build up a better resume and have better career opportunities.
Any woman living in Merida can now be part of the Women Who Code initiative, it does not have any cost and they can even bring a friend along, although meetings require reservation in advance due to space limitations.
They gather every Saturday morning to take part in workshops using different types of code, from Ruby to CSS to PHP and have frequent guest speakers about the current scenario for web and software developers.
We expect this initiative to grow larger and better, Ancona says, since every member contributes with new knowledge and skills about many topics related to computers and technology.
People from other parts of the world interested in sharing their experiences with us are also welcome, they can contact me any time, especially those who can help empower women through technology.
You can find more information about Women Who Code Merida through their Facebook page, their email and the Meetup app; other people can help since they are looking for sponsors, mostly to have spaces for gatherings and coffee… Because, who can live without computers and coffee, right?
(You can also listen to the Spanish interview in SoundCloud here)