CodeandStuff - where it all began

Pubished 23rd March 2020

Its no secret that Manchester has a huge tech meet-up scene, from learning to code to CTO discussions, there really is something for everyone. Working in the heart of the city centre, ECOM have been lucky enough to get involved with a number of these meetups including Python NW User Group, Architecting Manchester and CodeandStuff to name a few.

We've been working with Fey Ijaware who runs CodeandStuff, a coding community for women and non-binary newbies and developers, since being introduced last November we have been in awe of her commitment to giving back to the community. Alice Bailey at ECOM wanted to share Fey’s inspiration behind the meetup and how you can get involved.

Bit about you - Why did you choose to start a career software development?

I am Fey Ijaware, I'm a Senior Front-end developer at DWP Digital and I am also the founder of CodeandStuff and CodePossible.

When I left university, I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do, so i got an office job at the Co-op group, due to some reshuffling at work, I got a new manager who gave me a website project to have a look at and that was how I got a taste for developing.

“I had to self-learn, and fell in love with coding and developing”. After 15 months of developing alongside my other role and responsibilities, while also helping other departments with there coding related jobs, I decided to take a year out to study being a Web developer in more depth.

“I went for every learning opportunity I could find, and I even got a scholarship to learn Android Development from Google”. After only nine months of learning, I was able to get a role as a front-end developer, and I’ve been doing that for over three years now.

I’m deeply fascinated by technology and all its possibilities. To be honest, I’m deeply fascinated by all aspects of tech and love to learn anything! I’m a problem solver and being a developer has definitely opened up my world to whole new ways in which I can help create solutions to issues. Positive change is something I’m very passionate about and one of the things that made developing resonate with my soul.

What is CodeandStuff?

I launched CodeandStuff on International Women’s Day 2019. It’s a coding and networking community for women and non-binary code newbies and developers in Manchester with weekly events. CodeandStuff events are primarily for women and non-binary people but I’d welcome anyone who’s able to help out with mentoring, speaking or running a workshop.

I believe that if we want to achieve a tech world with gender equality, representation matters, and creating a safe space for women in tech where they can learn through talks, workshops, and networking by connecting them to strong, smart, independent developers, is a step in the right direction. And ultimately a way forward to help balance the scale. My role as a Founder of a tech community for women and non-binary people involves using my knowledge, leadership and technical skills to educate, diversify tech, and make a positive impact for social good.

What inspired you to start CodeandStuff?

I’m passionate about introducing more people into tech and coding, especially women, and CodeandStuff does that. I’m a self-taught software developer and I understand learning to code can be difficult but having a community to help you makes it so much easier, this is in part what inspired me to start CodeandStuff.

I founded CodeandStuff to help diversify tech, and help other women and non-binary people have a better self-taught journey than I had.

What do you think the consequences of lack of diversity in tech are?

Working in tech has definitely opened my eyes to inequalities that exist within the industry, and especially the lack of diversity. A side effect of a lack of diversity in tech is the bias and exclusion it can create. For example, having an all-male team isn’t automatically a bad thing, but without any influence from women or those who belong to gender minorities, how likely are they to reflect the other half of the population in their work?

This is why, more than anything, diversity and inclusion in tech is something I'm passionate about. I believe the issue isn’t that there are too many white men, but rather that other groups are underrepresented. Technology has the potential to resolve a lot of the world’s problems, but it needs the right mix of people, looking at the problems, in the right way, and this is why I want to encourage more women and non-binary people into tech with CodeandStuff, and offer help and support to new developers.

It is not just up to education providers, employers or the government to be responsible for building a system which helps more girls and women to realise their potential in STEM, we must all take ownership because we all have a contribution to make. It’s not enough to just talk about it. It needs concrete action to make it happen and it’s up to each and everyone one of us.

What does the Manchester tech meet-up scene mean to you?

The Manchester tech meet-up scene means a lot to me because I don't think I would have gotten this far in my career without the support and mentorship I received from meetup's such as the Manchester’s FreeCodeCamp meetup and the Manchester Codebar meet-up and why I give up my time to also help co-organiser and mentor for both meetup's now (Manchester’s FreeCodeCamp and Codebar community). Networking with other women in tech is important to me and I strongly believe in finding your tribe and for me the Manchester tech meet-up scene is that for me.

If someone was interested in starting a career in tech but has no idea where to start, what advice would you give them?

1. Do your research, and learn the relevant languages employers are looking for.

2. Don’t give up!

3. Find a mentor, supportive community, or both. If you are a woman or non-binary and live in Manchester come along to a codeandstuff event.

4. Don’t be afraid to fail, embrace failure and learn how to do better.

5. Practice practice practice.