Spring Forward festival returns to “build confidence” of women in coding

The third Spring Forward festival will take place in March, and will showcase events that aim to encourage women to become “leaders” in programming, UX and game design, and animation.

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Spring Forward, a month-long event for women working in digital, is back, and this year will focus on building confidence.

The event takes place across two venues in Brighton in March, coinciding with Women’s History Month.

It will showcase 10 events ranging from hands-on workshops in programming and stop-motion animation, to talks and motivational speeches on achieving career success.

A hands-on workshop at Spring Forward 2015
A hands-on workshop at Spring Forward 2015

Last year, Viviana Doctorovich, co-founder at Spring Forward, told us the festival aimed to be an “umbrella event” that would “give more visibility” to women working in digital sectors – including programming, stop-motion animation, user experience (UX) design and gaming.

Focus on confidence and career success

She says that since then, the festival has helped to increase the profile of female digital designers, and also connect different communities within the sector.

The festival in 2016 – now in its third year – is more focused on “obstacles around confidence”, and “career success” – as well as opening up the event to women of all ages, she says.

Programming “male-dominated”

To do this, it is expanding on last year’s seven events, with three new sessions: Make Your Ideas Happen, a workshop from Sussex Innovation Centre on turning start-up ideas into a reality; ThinkNation, a panel discussion on women’s influence on technology; and Career Garden Masterclass, a motivational coaching workshop on overcoming “disempowering thoughts” and achieving career success.

“A big issue with programming in particular is that it’s a male-dominated, and sometimes vicious environment,” says Doctorovich. “This year, we’re trying to build leadership skills, confidence and business-thinking.”

Designing with “specific goals”

The festival will also be continuing its Curiosity Hub workshop – this looks to engage “mothers and daughters” in hands-on activities, which will this year be stop-motion animation and programming for video game Minecraft, with the aim of appealing to girls as young as 10.

“We realised last year that to attract women to technology events, they need to be designed differently,” Doctorovich says. “We found that women were more interested in learning towards a specific goal – so we’ve changed the format of courses. Rather than learning to build games in general, or simply learning JavaScript, it’s about learning how to build a specific game.”

With sessions like Pixels & Prosecco, Spring Forward is also trying to create a relaxed atmosphere for women in digital to meet and engage with one another.

Spring Forward had 450 attendees last year, and is expecting more than 500 in 2016. Additions to the current programme will be announced nearer the time on the website.

Spring Forward 2015
Spring Forward 2015

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