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15 Chicago-based Cis and Trans Women Programmers to Follow on Twitter

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Everyone needs a dose of inspiration from time to time. Women in tech especially need a network of role models and a strong community of fellow tech ladies to offer support and insights--and Twitter can be a great way for aspiring women programmers of all backgrounds to find just that. The platform is chock full of diverse tech industry folks willing to share their knowledge and experiences on a regular basis.

We recently shed some light on the Chicago civic tech community and today we’re following up with a feature on some of the city’s top cis and trans women programmers. Read about these 15 ladies, and then give them a follow on Twitter.

Safia Abdalla

Safia Abdalla is an open-source enthusiast, speaker, writer, and podcast host. By day, Abdalla works for Microsoft as a software engineer. In her spare time, she maintains a number of open-source projects, all of which can be found on her personal website. Abdalla has given keynote addresses at a number of conferences, including StarCon 2018 and Write/Speak/Code 2017. She’s even found time to publish a book of short stories. Follow Abdalla for insightful and lighthearted tweets on all things code.

Rose Afriyie

Rose Afriyie is one of Chicago’s leading civic tech developers. She is the cofounder and executive director of mRelief, a nonprofit that helps users to access social services. More specifically, it makes it easy for Americans to find out whether they qualify for food stamps and, if so, to apply for them. Afriyie also chairs BYP100, a national organization of Black activists, “dedicated to creating justice and freedom for all Black people.” Follow Afriyie on Twitter for the latest news on both her nonprofit and the Chicago civic tech scene in general.

Becca Nelson Bailey

Becca Nelson Bailey is a teacher-turned-coder currently working as a software engineer for 8th Light. After realizing that teaching elementary fine arts wasn’t for her, Bailey attended a coding bootcamp and succeeded in getting a job just six months after graduating. She has written extensively about the experience and coding in general on Medium, has spoken at several JavaScript events, and now mentors junior developers at 8th Light.

Rachel Baker

Rachel Baker is head of engineering at Wirecutter, which means she’s responsible for the software engineering, data engineering, and project management departments—and has somehow managed to grow the engineering team from one developer to 30. Baker is also a WordPress Core Committer—which makes her one of the select trusted few with the power to merge code into the WordPress code base—and was the lead developer on the first distributed REST API, used by around a third of the internet. Follow Baker for all Wordpress-related news and to get a glimpse into what it’s like to engineer one of the web’s most popular sites.

Brittney Braxton

Brittney Braxton is a software developer at Edovo, a platform that delivers education and communication services to those affected by incarceration. She initially graduated from the University of Michigan with a psychology degree before being inspired to follow her passion and, like many would-be developers, enroll in a coding bootcamp. Braxton is committed to the representation of marginalized groups in tech and now organizes for People of Color Code and Write/Speak/Code.

Women Programmer at laptop in coworking space

Veronica Buitron

Veronica Buitron is co-founder and CTO of Tango Code, a custom web and mobile app development agency. As a leading woman in tech, Buitron is passionate about promoting diversity in the industry. To this end, she has collaborated with Chicago-based incubator 1871 and the Metropolitan Chicago YWCA to create 3D (Developing Digital Diversity), an eight-week course that teaches mobile app development to women, minorities, and veterans. Buitron has recently been announced as an official member of the Forbes Technology Council for 2019.

Naomi Ceder

Naomi Ceder is an open-source development manager at Blick Art Materials. Outside of her day job, Ceder is an elected fellow of the Python Software Foundation and serves as chair of its board of directors. She is also the co-founder and organizer of Trans*Code, a hack day for trans people and allies in the UK. As you’ll see from her tweets, Ceder is a huge advocate for Python and for greater inclusion in tech. She continues to speak internationally on both subjects and has been doing so for more than 15 years.

Coraline Ada Ehmke

Coraline Ada Ehmke is a software developer, speaker, writer, and open-source advocate. She has spent more than 20 years in software development and is currently a principal engineer at Stitch Fix. Ehmke is perhaps best known for creating Contributor Covenant, the most popular open-source code of conduct in the world. As a Ruby expert, Ehmke serves on the board of directors for Ruby Together and was formerly on the board of RailsBridge—both languages that she continues to speak about on a regular basis. Ehmke is a prominent promoter of diversity and inclusion in the industry. Since 2014, she has written and spoken publicly about her gender transition in hopes that it will make the path easier for others to follow.

Alexis King

Alexis King is a functional programming expert who specializes in the programming languages Haskell and Racket—and works full-time on the latter at Northwestern University. In her spare time, King contributes to open-source projects, writes libraries, and builds tools. She’s also passionate about teaching functional programming, something you’ll notice if you follow her on Twitter. She speaks widely on the topic, writes about it on her blog, and creates extensive documentation for all of her software builds.

Rebecca Miller-Webster

Rebecca Miller-Webster is the CTO at Tandem and the founder of Write/Speak/Code, a platform dedicated to increasing the visibility of female and non-binary coders. Before moving to Chicago, Miller-Webster was the founding teacher at a New York coding bootcamp and the organizer of GORUCO (Gotham Ruby Conference), a one-day development conference. In 2014, she was named one of 7 Brilliant Women in Tech by Craigslist founder Craig Newmark. Follow this engineering leader for daily inspiration, book recommendations, and industry news.

Vanessa McHale

Vanessa McHale is a software engineer at IOHK, where she works primarily in Haskell. When not developing professionally, McHale has made several contributions to open-source libraries in Haskell, Idris, and ATS. If you’re interested in learning about a lesser-known programming language, McHale provides a deep dive into the world of Haskell and other functional programming languages.

Women Programmer at laptop in class

Lorena Mesa

Lorena Mesa is a data engineer on GitHub's software intelligence systems team. She’s also a director of the Python Software Foundation and a co-organizer of PyLadies Chicago, a Python-focused meet-up for women and non-binary individuals. Mesa has given Python talks at more than a dozen conferences and been featured on a number of podcasts. Follow her for a heavy dose of—you guessed it—Python and open-source-related tweets, as well as for motivational comments on the state of women in tech.

Genevieve Nielsen

Genevieve Nielsen is a graduate of The Starter League—a Chicago coding bootcamp now owned by Fullstack Academy—who is using her tech skills for good. In 2014, Nielsen—together with Rose Afriyie—helped create mRelief and is now CTO at the startup. Her dedicated work there saw her named to the Forbes 30 under 30 class of social entrepreneurs for 2017. Nielsen tweets about mRelief, nonprofits, and the wider Chicago civic tech scene.

Tania Rascia

Tania Rascia is an open-source developer and designer currently working as a front-end software engineer at DAIS Technology—though she previously worked for nearly a decade as a professional chef. When she isn’t working for DAIS, Rascia is on a mission to write “the missing instruction manuals of the web,” as she explains on her personal website. She’s written documentation and tutorials for companies like DigitalOcean, SitePoint, and Envato Tuts+, so if you want to improve your coding knowledge, there are few better people to follow on Twitter.

Andrea Rene Soper

Andrea Rene Soper is a cloud engineer at, a platform-as-a-service company that helps developers manage their applications. Soper has been a developer for more than a decade and has learned a variety of languages, from Ruby to Objective C. PHP and Drupal are her favorites, however, and it’s mainly those languages you’ll find her tweeting about.

Twitter is a fantastic community for women in tech, but it shouldn’t be your only support group. When you enroll in Fullstack Academy’s Grace Hopper Program, you’ll be surrounded by open-minded women committed to building a career in code—and you won’t pay full tuition until you’ve landed a full-time job in the tech industry. Find out more about our NYC- and Chicago-based deferred tuition programs today.

Images by: Dayne Topkin, dotshock/©, Andor Bujdoso/©