Closing the Gap: Rails Girls, Their Mission to Change the Face of Technology, and a Mother’s Determination to Bring Tech Power to Her Daughters

There is a boom that is bringing some of the best developers, coders, and programmers to the forefront of technology, yet there is a significant segment of the population that is not being represented—women. Statistics show that girls opt out of the advanced science, math, and technology classes in their K-12 years that would prepare them to work in technology fields that yield rewarding careers in science and technology. In an effort to change the gender landscape of technology, Rails Girls has created a community for women and girls to better understand technology and build their ideas. This volunteer-based non-profit was founded in Finland but has grown to be a global sensation providing women and girls tools to learn sketching, prototyping and basic programming.
Rails for Girls made its big stop in Houston July  26th and 27th and held a free workshop that women and girls from throughout the city attended. Spotted in the crowd was an interesting mother and daughter duo who have taken an interest in learning more about coding and programming. Encouraged by her husband, who is himself a programmer/developer/blogger, Cerita Young decided that she would delve into the technology world and would bring her daughter along for the journey. Tech Street Houston had an opportunity to interview Cerita to find out about her experience at Rails for Girls and how she plans to use it for the future.
TSH: It’s always wonderful to meet interesting people and this is a wonderful story. Would you mind telling the TechStreet Houston audience about yourselves?
CY: My name is Cerita Young and with me is my 11 year old daughter Audrey. My background is as a small business owner and I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Genetics.  I have never used my science degree, as my mother passed away shortly after graduation and I slipped into her role of assisting my father with his business.  I am now an office manager/vice president/bookkeeper for a family-owned East End automotive repair shop.  My husband David Young is a programmer/full stack developer/blogger. I homeschool our three daughters and David has been encouraging me and the girls to get involved in coding on Python and Ruby.  I have been a little resistant because of my schedule, but my husband believes strongly that the family that codes together, stays together. I know that he would like to venture out on his own someday and would like for us to be his built-in source of free labor.
TSH: Talk to us a little about your interest in programming and coding. How did you wind up at the Rails for Girls event?
CY:  David told us about the RailsGirls Event and showed us the application.  I jokingly suggested it could be a fun mother-daughter outing and Audrey was all on board.  Audrey and all the girls love to craft and game.  David is slowly introducing them to the behind the scenes look and feel of games like Minecraft, hoping to pique their interests.  He was very encouraging, so we applied.  He has been after me for years, but as I said, I was resistant as it just didn’t seem to make sense to me.  He kept saying “if you would just give Ruby a try, you will “get it”.  Audrey absorbed the information quickly and I eventually caught learned it.
TSH: What will you do now that you know a little about programming? What is your next move in the programming world?
CY: What is really awesome is that someone built our company a website with some minor errors.  While we were talking they showed me the code and I easily identified where I could go in and make the changes without disturbing the look of the site.  In that one experience money and time were saved and it was very empowering to be able to make the changes myself., For once I didn’t feel like a stranger in a strange land, but like someone on the verge of a connection.  It was exciting, and I couldn’t have learned that from David.  Not that he isn’t a great teacher, he is!  I just can’t learn from him because he is, well, you know, my husband.  Audrey does great with him, as do Veronica and Caitlin.  I look forward to using this knowledge to enhance our image and to possibly begin a little project world of my own while also working on some small projects with David, who is working on some GoogleGlass applications.  I would really like to encourage Audrey to make some small applications that would fit into her creative world.  She is an artist by nature and I would like to encourage her to use the languages as her medium.
TSH: Are there any interesting technologies, startups or trends that you are excited about?
 CY: Obviously I am in love with this whole move to cloud-based solid state devices, but I am not sure that is a great thing.  It tends to make me less dedicated to my backups while I have no idea who is backing up this “cloud”,. It causes a false sense of security.  I am enjoying learning what the GoogleGlass can do, and how it works “in the cloud”.  I could see it, or something like it, replacing the current phone where both hands will be free and my fingers won’t cramp while I text.  I am excited to watch what the next big thing will be, because I am certain it will be nothing I expect!  Hopefully it will be something awesome that one of my girls creates.
Co-Authors: Daniel Cohen & Natasha Turner