Code Sisters: Closing the Gender Gap

I am happy to announce that Saturday, May 23rd will be the OFFICIAL kickoff of “Code Sisters,” a monthly, structured tutorial/workshop session for women learning to code. Each month, from 9:00 am to noon, we will teach a beginner level web development topic in a workshop/tutorial format. After a lunch break, there will be time for practice, project work, and mentoring.

These sessions are geared to help participants procure valuable skills, as well as gain the confidence to form their own software projects and join the hacker community at large. We expect women who complete these courses will be able to share their own software projects at events like the weekly Hack Nights that Gangplank hosts on Wednesdays.

In the meantime, the more advanced or adventurous have an open invitation to Hack Night and the “Code Purple” lounge, where Code Sisters and their “bros” can network, connect with mentors and project partners, and practice their skills.

If you know of a woman who might be interested in the group, please let her know about it. If you have skills and knowledge you want to share, please contact Ariel Strong <> or one of the people listed below.

We are actively looking for mentors – male or female – and would welcome your input and help as we put together future sessions.

Help from the Pirate Ship

From talking to ‘Plankers the last two months, I’ve gathered lots of ideas on how to structure an initiative to get more women into coding or just tech in general. I’ve heard many (sometimes opposite!) opinions on how to approach putting a Gangplank group together and lined up a number of potential mentors.

Thank you all. I appreciate the input, especially how to decide on a language and start learning as well as links to resources that we can use.

In fact, the response was so positive with so many good ideas, I wasn’t sure where to begin.

Opening up Code Sisters (unofficially operating at Gangplank since January) to a wider audience seemed like a logical place to start, but we needed a more structured format.

The dilemma was solved on Saturday, April 25th, after a Railsbridge Workshop for women hosted by Infusionsoft. Five Gangplankers attended the introductory Ruby on Rails event – Catherine Leyen, Eileen Kane, Ariel Strong, Trish Gillam, and Christopher Murray (who provided extraordinary technical support!).

There was consensus among Gangplank’s attendees that the format used for Railsbridge would be a perfect fit for Code Sisters’ purposes. The environment was nurturing and proved fruitful for learning a new skill. All of the women left with a decent understanding of the Ruby framework, thanks to the support of the team of volunteers, mentors and organizers who worked with each sub-group of the 50+ attendees.

On top of having a solid structure, Railsbridge provides their coursework online for free. It covers a variety of languages (Ruby on Rails, Javascript, CSS, HTML) and we intend to take full advantage. Soo…

The Shape of Things to Come…

This is only the beginning. We really don’t know how things will take shape, and we will adapt as we go. We want you to join us in this adventure and maybe eventually even steer the ship. In the spirit of Gangplank, we will be dangerous. Yaarrrgh!


Arduino Night

ArduinoCome join us at Gangplank Chandler the third Wednesday of every month. Arduino Night is an evening to share your project and work with others on completing Arduino based projects. It is held in conjunction with Hacknight, so there will be plenty going on and lots of great people to interact with.  Oh yeah…and pizza.

Mike Benner's Arduino Prototype Board

Arduino Prototype Board

Some of the current projects include a bathroom monitoring system, a Jeopardy style buzzer system, RFID to web service, Ghost Hunting device and even a cloud computing management tool. We also have a Epilog Laser Engraver/Cutter on site to create custom cases and mounts for your prototypes and plenty of helpful people. If you have ever thought about getting into the embedded device arena, this is your opportunity.

Don’t have an Arduino? No sweat come on down and borrow one of ours. Don’t have a project? Come join in with one already in progress. Don’t have any more excuses? Great! We’ll see you there.

Why you shouldn't miss Hacknights

Hacknights were started to provide an opportunity for like-minded individuals to connect, share ideas and launch new ventures in the community. Every Wednesday around quitting time, a hodge-podge of developers, bloggers, artists, techies and entrepreneurs are thrown together in one giant room – and crazy things happen.

If you haven’t had an opportunity to attend a Hacknight, here’s a taste.

Last night, more than 40 people showed up to Gangplank for Hacknight. Our first ever roller-hockey game was played in the loading area behind the building. Josh Strebel of acted as videographer, riding around on the new Gangplank bike shooting the bloody battle. Injuries were sustained, with the ConreyHurstCharland team pulling off a 3-1 victory. Who says girls can’t play?

In the midst of the game, lots was going on inside Gangplank. Nicholas Dibiase and Brandon Franklin struck up an impromptu jam session, playing percussion and guitar for attendees enjoyment. Also on the music front, Stern Savage stopped by to drop off a sneak preview of his mixtape, to be released July 31st.

Hacking activities were in full swing as well. Heat Sync Labs set up a lock picking table, with various levels to challenge Hacknight attendees. Nick Hammond managed to pick all the locks, save the hardest.

And of course, what’s a Hacknight without a ridiculously awesome YouTube video about college sports?

Even with all the distractions and activities, Hacknights main draw is the amazing conversations between people. Artists, musicians, dating advice bloggers, marketing consultants and coders discussing sports, differences between the sexes and getting to know one another. These initial meetings are the stepping stones that create projects and passions that move the world.

Why miss out?

Photo Mojo Contest

Luz and James Archer put on a great little event within hacknight this week that they labeled Photo Mojo.  It is similar to phthrd.  The concept (loosely) is that a bunch of photographers of various levels and backgrounds all meet up.  Then a set of topics/words are chosen collectively.  The photographers are broken into teams and have a set time to shoot and edit photos that represent the set of topics/words.  Each team can then submit one photo per topic/word to be evaluated.  A winner for each topic/word is then chosen.  Fun is had.

For this Photo Mojo the words were Orbital, Epidemic and Scholarly.  The time frame was one hour.

Here are the winners for each topic/word.




Seems to no longer be available. :(

You can rate the photos yourself on


We have been doing Hacknights for quite some time.  They have taken on a life of their own and that is what makes them so special.  They are what the people who attend them make them out to be.  You might find people competing in Mario Kart on the Wii or rocking out to Rockband.  You could find them watching political campaign speeches on a 100″ jumbotron or arguing politics over a 3″ you tube snippet.  They might be hacking on the next greatest thing or finishing up a client project.  They might laughing at their own jokes or in heated discussion over what will change the landscape of the community.  You might find them listening to a podcast or making one.  The truth is you never quite know what to expect and that is the beauty of it.

Several Integremlins wanted to better capture some of the spirit of what goes on and built a fantastic application to help track who comes to hacknight and what happens here.  If you are a regular attendee you should sign up and let others know what you are working on.