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The road towards a better future for our community

Swift for Good – because just talking about diversity isn’t enough

Chris Stewart
swift
© Shutterstock / Danshutter

Paul Hudson loves Swift and he loves the Swift community. He not only wants the community to be better, but he wants to make the community better. That’s why nobody got paid to write their part of Swift for Good and 100% of the proceeds will go to Black Girls Code. We caught up with him to talk a bit about this amazing project.

Increasing diversity in STEM fields is an important but very long road to travel. In our Women in Tech series, we’ve been following this issue very closely over the years as we believe it’s important to foster equality and diversity as much as we can. That’s why we were excited to find out about Swift for Good, a book aimed at Swift developers of all skill levels.

swift

The book is being sold on a pay-what-you-want basis with a recommended donation of $40. Every cent goes straight to Black Girls Code, a charity whose vision is “to increase the number of women of color in the digital space by empowering girls of color ages 7 to 17 to become innovators in STEM fields, leaders in their communities, and builders of their own futures through exposure to computer science and technology.”

Paul Hudson is the driving force behind this initiative, so we wanted to talk to him and find out more about his thought processes and reasons for putting this book together. In addition, throughout the interview we have also sprinkled some quotes from the book’s contributors to try and paint a picture of the real beliefs, goals and motivations that have played a role in making Swift for Good a reality.

Traditional textbooks often use examples that are too abstract so I wanted the chance to write something that everyone could understand with real-world examples. We can all help each other more by providing content that anyone can pick up and get something out of, and I’m excited that this book does that.

Neem Serra is a mobile developer at Slalom in the St. Louis area.

JAXenter: How did the idea for Swift for Good come about and what was it like putting a project like this together?

Swift for Good was something I had been working on for about a year before it was finally announced in December 2019 – that alone tells you a lot about how much work it took. But fortunately I had a lot of friends who were able to get involved and contribute a chapter, so it ended up being an incredible team effort.

The core idea of a book with many authors isn’t uncommon, and many of the great games programming books are written in a similar style. Our twist is that we wanted to make a difference beyond the Swift community, and it’s worked even better than I had imagined – as I write this the book has been on sale for 24 hours, and we’ve already raised $50,000.

My main motivation to be part of this project is the fact that it united my love for two things: technology, and promoting an organization that strives to make tech a more diverse environment. It is rare when you have an opportunity to give back to the community in such an impactful way, so when Paul told me I knew I needed to be part of this. I hope this is the beginning of more initiatives not only on the Swift world but in tech in general.

Kate Castellano is an Engineering Manager for Client at Clue.

JAXenter: What was your motivation for starting this project?

It took me a few years to get where I wanted to be with Swift – to feel really confident with the language, to have built a site full of tutorials I could be proud of, and to have built up enough trust that folks knew they could rely on my work as a solid base for their own code.

But then I hit the point where I knew I had built up enough, and I wanted to use the position I had to make a difference to the wider world. So, I made the decision that everything I did in 2019 would benefit the community: all the tutorials and videos I made were free, I ran my own Swift conference where all profits went to charity, and I started personally funding diversity scholarships.

SEE ALSO: Women in Tech: “Diversity still has a long way to go”

Swift for Good is another extension of that, and answers the same question: “how can I use whatever platform I have to make a real difference?” I ask myself that a lot, and I encourage others to ask it of themselves.

I’m a sucker for the enthusiasm with which Paul drives the entire iOS community to give back, so when he asked me to participate in this project I signed up straight away. I’m excited that Black Girls Code is the beneficiary of this book – they do great work in getting new and under-indexed folks excited about and knowledgeable in technology. And I’m excited that my years of battle with NSDateFormatter will finally benefit a good cause!

Ellen Shapiro, iOS and Android developer working on the Apollo GraphQL iOS SDK. Co-author of Kotlin Apprentice and tech editor of other books for http://RayWenderlich.com.

JAXenter: Why did you pick Black Girls Code as your chosen charity?

This was surprisingly hard! I was really conscious that what I was offering could sound too good to be true: “hey, I’m going to recruit a whole bunch of world-class speakers and writers to write tutorials, edit their text, produce a cover, design a website, and put it all on sale, and all you need to do is tell us where the money should go – what do you say?”

SEE ALSO: 2020 IT skills: what we learned from 213,782 coding tests

I wanted to find a charity that was actively working to promote inclusion in areas where our community has historically been very far behind, because it’s too easy for geeks get stuck in our bubble. Black Girls Code are doing incredible work in giving girls of color the training, tools, and support to become the engineers of tomorrow, and when you look at the incredible impact they are having it’s really just an honor to be able to support their work even in a small way such as this.

My parents were immigrants to the United States with very little formal education so I didn’t have much exposure to STEM fields when I was younger. It was thanks to programs like Black Girls Code that gave me a glance into the world of technology and taught me that engineering was a career that I could actually get into. When Paul approached me about doing the book I jumped at the chance to be able to give back to the programs that changed my perspective on my future.

Kristina Fox is a Staff iOS Engineer at Intuit.

JAXenter: What motivated you to take part in this project and what more could be done to help further the cause?
This book allowed many great writers to contribute their skills for charity, while allowing readers to expand their knowledge and contribute to a great cause. But I hope it’s only the first step of many – I’d love to see Swift for Good: Volume Two at some point, and even to expand the template to things such as JavaScript for Good and Kotlin for Good, all with the goal of benefiting charity.

Black Girls Code is an organization I care a lot about, I started volunteering with them in 2014. It’s so important to me to be able to pass on my skills and knowledge to a younger generation of women of color who have an interest in technology. If we want a future where more diverse people have an opportunity to create technology and participate in technology, those of us who are currently in the industry need to support and volunteer with organizations like Black Girls Code. Being a part of Swift for Good was an opportunity to stay true to my own beliefs about giving back and spread knowledge about Swift to more people.

Kaya Thomas is an iOS engineer at Calm and the founder of We Read Too, a mobile directory of diverse books for kids and teens. She is also an international public speaker and writer with bylines in several publications.

If you want to buy or find out more about the book, go to the Swift for Good website. Learn more about Black Girls Code here.

Author
Chris Stewart
Chris Stewart is an Online Editor for JAXenter.com. He studied French at Somerville College, Oxford before moving to Germany in 2011. He speaks too many languages, writes a blog, and dabbles in card tricks.

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