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What drove seven 30-something women to learn how to code

Le Wagon Lisbon’s sixth bootcamp has the highest percentage of females ever - forty percent.

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Le Wagon Lisbon’s sixth bootcamp has the highest percentage of females ever - forty percent.


Le Wagon Lisbon’s sixth bootcamp has the highest percentage of females ever - forty percent. While we are still trying to pin down the variables that led us to recruiting such a diverse range of interesting and empowered females, we thought we would share their stories to not only celebrate them on International Women’s Day, but also to inspire the next group of women to tackle the seemingly daunting goal of learning to code.

Without further ado, I give you the ambitious women of #Batch122…

Why learning to code?

Joana: In my opinion, it is the “new” universal language that is going to be used almost everywhere and, in the near future, everyone will need to understand it in their jobs.

Carly: As an economist I used a statistical analysis program that had its own pseudo-language and when I got sick of my 10 years in development, I looked at what I enjoyed the most and that was the problem/puzzle solving. That combined with the realization that code literacy will be paramount in the future, it was the obvious path for me.

Irina: I want a good career which will allow me to grow in skills annually and eventually allow me to work remotely from anywhere in the world. I am a traveller at heart and love the idea of being anywhere in the world doing my job. It gives me freedom.

Marta: I wanted to complement my business profile with a more technical skill set that allows me to break technical challenges without feeling technical limitations.

Olya: I feel coding is a very essential skill to have - like reading or writing. A lot of solutions to daily problems come from the digital world and knowing code can empower anyone to contribute.

Maura: I've decided to learn how to code because of how technologically advanced our society is getting.

Mariana: So many reasons… • To be able to build my own tech projects so I can develop my business ideas independently • To have tech skills that will allow me to get plenty of freelance jobs that will allow me to have the freedom of working from wherever I want • Because the world is becoming more and more technologic and I want to keep up with that trend • To fulfil my need to constantly learn something new

Maura Baptista

Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years?

Carly: Running my company(ies) while traveling around the world a lot and adopting stray dogs.

Joana: Working as a web developer in a place where I can grow professionally, working remotely and having a good balance between professional and personal life.

Irina: Oh jeez, I honestly don't know!! My life fluctuates so much and so do I. I would hope to be married and in a good career but who knows....I've never been the most organised of people, especially regarding myself. I hope the best for myself, but I also won't stress out about achieving any particular goals. Life is short! Work hard to get what you want, but don't let it stress you.

Marta: I expect to be able to bridge the gap between Business and Product Development teams, managing a Product Management team, having an influence in a company's direction and a direct impact on business growth.

Olya: I prefer to not set any limits and keep an open mind, because if life has taught me anything - it's that it proves to be way more interesting than we can ever imagine.

Maura: Building beautiful and meaningful products as a senior full-stack developer.

Mariana: Working as a freelance developer so I can be location independent in order to spend the winter months abroad in some warm country and the rest of the year in Alentejo ☺

Mariana Marcelino

How can the tech industry be more inclusive for women?

Carly: Tech can start being more inclusive by showing young girls and women that it isn’t just Sheryl Sandberg who is in tech, but that there are incredible women in all types of positions in tech not just in marketing - women in devops, ux/ui, javascript, product owners, etc.

Marta: I think it needs to start with education, encouraging young girls to pursue technical careers from a young age as even nowadays women continue to be a minority in technical studies.

Olya: This is way too complex a question to be able to cover it in a paragraph. Well, for starters it should stop catering video games and devices solely to boys, making them more prone to pursuing a career in the tech industry and girls - less so. At the same time, women should get the skills and start entering the industry in greater numbers, becoming a part of it, getting into the decision making positions and thus influencing it from the inside.

Irina Popa

What’s your biggest surprise learning to code?

Carly: How much I like it and how good I am at it ;)

Irina: It's so much fun torturing your brain somewhat!!! Have faith in that little guy, it's actually a big guy who can grow and grow, just when you're about to give up on him. It's a challenging, creative process with an immensely rewarding good feel factor when you have the breakthrough. And if you stare at the code long enough, the breakthrough will come. Trust your brain, it used to work once and it might be hard to warm up the muscle but once you do, you're halfway there. Learning to code is embracing your brain and its awesome powers once again. Give in to it, it will surprise you!

Marta: I am enjoying learning to code as it’s opening horizons to a new way of thinking about products and it has proven to be a lot about logics and learning a new language. I must recognize that in the beginning I was afraid it would be very complicated and not the right fit for me, but after these past few weeks, I am starting to get a hold of it and realizing that with a few tools and intense, focused learning you really can learn to develop your own products.

Maura: At the beginning of my batch, when I saw the program and rhythm of our lectures, and the fact that I didn’t have a tech background, I really thought that I wouldn’t be able to retain so much information in just 9 weeks. But to my surprise, even with such an intense learning rhythm, I’ve managed to learn a lot through these 9 weeks, and today I’m capable of doing a web app by myself. It is very rewarding to see how far I came - practically from zero to a Junior Developer.

Carly Petracco

What is the most valuable takeaway (thus far) from learning to code for you?

Carly: Breaking down problems into pieces to simplify and understand how to tackle the answer better.

Mariana: Confirming yet again that we can actually achieve anything we set our mind and heart to: if we have a real intention of succeeding, it will happen eventually - even when it comes to the apparently hermetic world of code and even if takes longer than for other people around us.

Olya Yeremenko

Do you have any advice to others wanting to get into tech?

Joana: People have to be aware that learning how to code is a continuous process and you will never stop learning in your day to day job. In my opinion, the best way to launch yourself into the tech world is through an intensive course with evidence of successful alumni. This course will guide you from the basics to a stage where you can start developing on your own.

Olya: The only advice would be - start doing it! There are plenty of resources, including free ones, that can teach the basics and help you understand if coding is really what you want to invest your time in. Then - talk to people who are already doing it, get help and guidance. Research your options, and go for it. I believe there is only gain - the world is getting more digital by the second, it is rapidly changing the economy, and understanding how it all works is an important skill to have, whatever you decide to do with it.

Maura: Just go for it! Give it a try and you may find out that you were actually made for it. A good way to start is to complete one track of any language on Codecademy. If you like challenges, and you’re a creative person, coding can be very rewarding and fun! Besides, the tech industry is growing everyday. This translates into developers being in high demand everywhere! Learning to code was one of the best decision I’ve ever made for my life!

Joana Leão
Carly Petracco, Economist I have a Bachelors and Masters in Economics plus 10 years experience in Development Economics working for the UN, EBRD, the World Bank and other international organizations.

Joana Leão, Chemical Engineer I have a degree in chemical engineering from IST. I have been working in the R&D and Logistics Departments in the food and cosmetic industries.

Irina Popa, Teacher I studied Art History at University then a Law degree in London. After I worked a lot of jobs in art galleries and music law companies before deciding to travel. I completed the CELTA English Teaching Certificate and moved to Istanbul then Lisbon to teach English.

Marta Keller, Product Manager I have a double-degree in International Management doing half of my studies in Spain and the other half in Germany. My professional experience is also multi-cultural and in Tech (Vodafone, Google and lastly the Lisbon startup ecosystem) mostly in Business Development, Product and Project Management.

Olya Yeremenko, Entrepreneur (profile images / batch photos) I studied finance, worked at a Big 4 firm for a couple of years, then joined an NGO, then owned and ran an art school.

Maura Baptista, Manager I have four years of experience working as an administrative officer in an NGO(World Vison) and the Italian Cooperation(Mozambique). Plus, another 6 years of experience as a Managing Director and Co-Founder at BaobArt -Fair Trade Organization(Mozambique).

Mariana Marcelino, Communications Officer I have a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Communication Sciences and have worked for 10+ years as a Communications Officer both in Portugal and in the UK. In 2012, I took a career break to teach scuba diving in SE Asia.


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