Codebar Brighton from Matchbox HQ

As an employer Matchbox is committed to promoting diversity. We are only too often reminded, when advertising for staff, attending conferences or meeting other businesses, that the tech industry does not yet reflect the diverse society it serves. Initiatives like Codebar are vital to making entering the tech industry more accessible to under-represented groups.

The Origins of Codebar

Codebar was originally founded by Despo Pentara in London in October 2013. She was inspired by the lack of female developers working in web development and was looking for a way to encourage and support other women in her industry, thus Codebar was born.

Codebar is a weekly event mentoring women and LGBTQ in the foundations of web development languages such as HTML, CSS, Javascript and Ruby.

The movement has since branched out into Brighton and Cambridge, with Glasgow and Edinburgh following soon.

The Brighton branch – headed up by Rosa Fox, Dot Wingrove and Ryan Hanna – was established in April 2014. Rosa had started working as a junior Ruby developer and had been going to Codebar in London each week.

Codebar Brighton

She had experienced first-hand how Codebar had played a huge part in building her confidence and had lead to her first job in development.
At the London event Rosa met Tom Ashworth, who works at Twitter, and between them decided to start Codebar Brighton.

With a large support network of developers in the city, Codebar Brighton was a huge success. Very quickly the event went from fortnightly to weekly, and likeminded members Dot and Ryan became co-organisers to promote the ethos of sharing, supporting and learning, and increase diversity in traditionally a very one dimensional industry.

Codebar actively encourages women and people underrepresented in tech to learn skills that can help them to get jobs as developers, and provides a support network of people to ask for advice. This can benefit people who want to become developers themselves, or just get a better understand in web technology and what goes on behind making a website.

Matchbox gets Involved

At Matchbox HQ 30 participants got stuck into discussion, code and pizza. To kick the evening off I gave a short presentation about Matchbox, how I got into development and production, and the challenges I faced along the way. The group then got paired off into mentor and trainee teams and began to get to grips with HTML, CSS, Javascript, Ruby, Git and Processing.

What I found exceptional about these sessions is the relaxed, friendly, non-judgemental environment. No one is afraid to ask questions, and no one seems intimidated by the technology. After a few pre-session nerves every first-time student puts together an HTML website in under 2 hours! They are all surprised at how quickly they get up to speed, and how easy it can be to get started.

Rosa says the biggest successes of Brighton Codebar is seeing the genuine buzz of excitement from students after they have finished a workshop and the support from local companies and developers which has allowed Codebar to run weekly.

Some students have begun working as developers and it is great to see people coming back each week and developing their own projects.

If you are female, LGBTQ or otherwise underrepresented in the tech industry and want to learn how to build a website from scratch then sign up as a student. Mentoring is open to everyone – so sign up if you would like to come and help someone keen to learn at www.codebar.io.

It was great having you Codebar! We look forwarding to hosting you again very soon.