Topic 4 Posts

Humans of EuroPython

EuroPython Blog

Community Post: The Invisible Threads that sustained me in STEM/Tech

The unconscious influence the Ghanaian tech community has had on my career.

My name is Joana Owusu-Appiah, and I am currently pursuing an MSc degree in Medical Imaging and Applications. I am originally from Ghana, but as my colleague likes to put it, I am currently backpacking through Europe. So depending on when you see this, my location might have changed.

I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana. Prior to commencing my graduate studies, I dabbled in data science and analytics, gaining experience in visualizing and manipulating data using various tools (Python, Power BI, Excel, SQL). My current research focuses on computer vision applications on medical images.

Do I consider myself a woman in tech? I guess if it means knowing how to use a computer (lol) and understanding that photo editing is based on image processing algorithms and deep learning, then I might be close.

Has it always been this way? No.

What changed

I am a first-generation university student. In my country, or how it used to be, growing up, the smarter students were encouraged to pursue General Science in high school because it ultimately ensured job security. In high school, my primary ambition was to attend medical school. However, as a backup plan, I stumbled upon Biomedical Engineering (BME), which fascinated me with its potential. It quickly became my secondary option. Interestingly, everyone I spoke to knew nothing about it. Guess who would jump at any opportunity to give a lecture about this mystery degree? Me!

Side note: My high school biology teacher mentioned that neurons (nerve cells), once damaged, could never be repaired, but he also said that they functioned like wires. I thought to myself, if I merged this pathological accident and the BME I had read about, then I could replace damaged nerves with wires (some day). I ran with this new, uninformed career goal.

Fun fact: I didn't get into medical school, but I did get into the BME program. I quickly realised that technical drawing (a requisite course for all engineering freshers) was definitely not going to equip me to fix Neurons, and that the only viable role for BM E graduates in my country was clinical engineering (maintenance and installation of medical equipment - or so I thought). Clinical engineering wasn’t something I wanted to try, so I needed an escape!

Programming looked interesting, but also difficult and meant for very smart people. However, I gave it a shot during covid. PyLadies Ghana was organising a data science boot camp, and I decided to try.

[Heads up: My undergraduate degree had programming courses like Introduction to C and Object-Oriented Programming with Java( I had collaborated with people on some projects then), but for some reason, I couldn't get my brain to enjoy it…]

The Real Reason you’re here

During the boot camp, some of the participants were absorbed into the national online community of Python Ghana because more resources and opportunities were being shared there. It turned out:  I was looking for an escape without any destination. Members of the community seemed very vibrant; there was always a job opening up for grabs, a new free online course or banter on trendy tech topics. My main struggle was finding a niche to belong; what was in tech for me?

My interest in health never waned, so you would usually see me reposting information on female health, breast cancer, etc. The PyLadies Ghana Lead, at that time, Abigail Mesrenyame Dogbe noticed it and in October (Breast Cancer Awareness month) she tasked me to help organise a session for the members of PyLadies Ghana. I moderated the session and it was very successful. My very first visible interaction with the community!

Abigail asked if I wanted to keep contributing to the Communications team( the comms team is the main organising force of PyLadies Ghana ) or default to being just a member. I opted for the former. In my eyes, this was a big deal; being asked to stay on the team meant a ton, It was a validation of a certain value I had to offer. I made mistakes, I created terrible designs, and I missed deadlines, but I also learned a lot. I learned how to use tools like Canva, schedule virtual calls,  MS Office tools (Excel, Docs), write official emails, organise events, etc. I was helping with social media engagements, and I didn't even have a vibrant social media presence. I was recommended to help with Public Relations (PR) and social media for a connected tech community(Ghana Data Science Summit-IndabaX Ghana) that organises annual data science conferences.

Two years later, I got the opportunity to mentor ladies in the very bootcamp that led me into the community. The ripple effects of my involvement with PyLadies Ghana are diverse, ranging from giving a lightning talk to speaking to young girls about STEM, to helping organise Django Girls at PyCon Ghana 2022, and more…

STEM outreach for teenage girls on International Women's Day 2023

Unknown to everyone, I had contemplated brushing the study of data science under the carpet as a ‘failed project’ and moving on to something else. Staying committed to the community, watching the members, and participating in events encouraged me to keep trying. I attended conferences, met and saw women who had achieved great things in data science and machine learning, which meant that I could also, through their stories, find a plan to help me get close to what they had done.

I was always fascinated by their work conversations because wow, these women work in tech?! Some community members had secured scholarships and were pursuing higher STEM degrees abroad while others worked for top tech companies.

After covid, my plan for life after school was to either hone my programming skills and get a good job in a Ghanaian tech company and/or find graduate programs that would enable me to work on my Neurons(of course I had developed other interests). I got into a specialised data science and analytics fellowship with Blossom Academy (more about the training here), landed my first tech role through it, and later began my master’s degree.

The Intro slide of the Data science bootcamp I mentored at!

The threads that sustained me in tech were the people, the conversations, and the inclusive atmosphere the Ghanaian community created for people with different personalities to thrive. My journey in STEM can be traced back to that pivotal moment in 2020 when I was offered the opportunity to belong and I seized it!

Humans of EuroPython: Vicky Twomey-Lee 💖

Howya! My name is Vicky Twomey-Lee, and I’ve been involved with the Irish Python community since mid-2005 with Python Ireland initially and now I currently run PyLadies Dublin. I’ve organised and facilitated Django Girls Dublin workshops in the past. I am also a co-founder of Coding Grace, advocating diversity in tech through events and curated news in Ireland. I am also the co-director of Women Who Code Dublin. Other not-for-profits I am involved in GameCraft (we run game jams in Ireland), Irish Geeks Table Quiz (an end-of-year event to bring the Irish community together raising money for a local charity.

I was also the Maker Advocate for Dublin Maker (the large Irish Maker festival).

What do you do?

I’m not coding anymore, it’s more of a hobby now with lots of projects to do on my bucket list. I spend a lot of my time involved with the not-for-profit initiatives mentioned above. I try to keep my eyes and ears peeled for Irish and Northern Irish tech news especially around diversity in tech and curate that for my monthly newsletters and event listings.

What does your community do?

Currently, I run regular PyLadies Dublin meetups, it’s mostly remote and live-streamed to our Youtube channel. Before Covid-19, our in-person meetups consisted of short talks followed by breakout sessions. Folks are encouraged to bring their laptops along, they can group up with the speakers on the topics spoken that evening, or work on their projects, seek help (e.g. setting up dev environments, going through tutorials, help with a problem they are stuck on).  We hope to do a mix of this next year as we plan to be mostly remote for the rest of the year. The remote sessions are a few lightning talks followed by Q&A. We keep it to around 1 hour and keep the live-streamed videos up on our channel so people can replay them in their own time.

What motivates you to do voluntary work?

It all began when I attended my first Python Ireland meetup in 2004 and after it rebooted, I got involved in looking for speakers and rooms to hold talks from mid-2005 till I passed the baton on in 2016. During this time, I chaired the first four PyCon Irelands, an idea formed in Neary’s pub one dark and wet February night in 2010 with a bunch of core Irish Pythonistas. An Irish conference to give us more experience to be able to host EuroPython and 10+2 years later, EuroPython is visiting our shores and I am so overjoyed for the opportunity for Irish Pythonistas who’ve never been to EuroPython to meet and connect with this fantastic community.

When I got more involved with Python Ireland, the community was super accepting and kind, helpful and we all shared knowledge with excitement and glee. I pushed myself to the limit with PyCon Ireland along with launching PyLadies Dublin (granted that I was also running workshops and game jams in my other initiatives around that time). I also like to highlight that PyCon UK helped us out a lot when we were trying to figure out PyCon Ireland back in 2010, and my foundation on the community is pretty based on how PyCon UK interacts with their community, their generosity, open-mindedness, inclusiveness and support, special shout out to John Pinner (RIP).

I also learned a lot being part of EuroPython Society’s board back in 2012, and with that knowledge in hand to enhance the process of running future editions of PyCon Ireland as well as contributing to improvements on how EuroPython was organised (thanks, Marc-André Lemburg).

As a way of giving back, I’m on the PSF’s Grants Work Group. I wanted to try to encourage a more diverse community to Python and encourage others to do so, and being part of the grants work group allows me to hopefully help others around the world to achieve that and make Python and its community more accessible to all.

I am honoured to be a PSF Fellow, and most recently to have received the PSF’s Community Service Award as well as EuroPython Society’s Fellow Grant. For me, with my Irish Pythonista hat on, I want to see more PSF Fellows, core contributors and future awardees in Ireland, and I will keep spreading this message to the amazing community here in Ireland.

Any final words?

For anyone attending EuroPython, I hope to see you at PyLadies Lunch, there will be PyLadies organisers and members from the US, Europe and afar there, so a great chance to meet and connect with them in person. You will need a conference ticket to attend the lunch.


The Humans of EuroPython: Naomi Ceder ✨

I’m Naomi Ceder, and I’ve been involved in Python communities since I first learned Python (at LinuxWorld in a tutorial given by Guido) in 2001. Over those years I’ve taught Python in schools, at meetups, and at conferences, and I’ve been a conference organiser at PyCon US (the poster session, the education summit, the intro to sprinting tutorials, and the Spanish track, Las PyCon Charlas) and at PyCon UK.

What do you do?

I’m a past chair of the Python Software Foundation, the author of The Quick Python Book, and I do Python training for businesses. I’m also the founder of Trans*Code, and I speak internationally about inclusion and diversity in tech communities and enterprises.

What does your community do?

Trans*Code is a hackday centered on the trans and non-binary communities, and we are partnering with EuroPython this year to hold our first in person event since 2019. This will be our 14th event, and our first in Ireland.

What motivates you to organise Trans*Code?

Trans and non-binary folk have come to be one of the chief targets as the culture wars have ratcheted up. Many would deny our rights, our humanity, even the opportunity to experience hope and joy. Trans*Code was founded specifically to bring trans and non-binary folk (and their friends) together to build community and help reclaim that hope and that joy. I believe that optimism is a revolutionary act.

What do you wish non-trans people knew or understood?

Personally I wish they understood that expressing shock, outrage, and sadness at transphobia and discrimination does no one any good. An expression of shock tells me that they have largely been able to ignore the countless other occurrences of transphobia that occur everywhere on a daily basis. Trans folk, like other marginalised groups, are certainly not shocked at discrimination and transphobia - we  deal with it every. single. day.  

Likewise I’m afraid that sadness or outrage that such cruel things happen is useless to us. Trans and NB folk don’t need pity or outrage, what we need is to be allowed to live our lives without harassment, to be able to get jobs and access needed medical care. In short, what we need is for people to have our backs - not so much as “allies”, but (as I’m fond of saying) as co-conspirators and even friends.

What do you think conferences should know about trans and non-binary people?

It’s not just about toilets. Okay, so yes, we’d very much like to have the same right to use the toilet without harassment as everyone else. But it's just as important to feel safe, welcome, and included at the conference. It doesn’t hurt for a conference to be explicit that trans folk will be respected and their safety ensured. Does the conference have any trans/NB organisers? Any other trans speakers? Does it have a solid code of conduct, with enforcement?

Beyond that trans and non-binary folk want the same conference experience as anyone else - to be welcomed and included as part of a community of shared interests, and not continually called out (explicitly or implicitly) for being different. One of my most wretched conference experiences was a social event where “friends” spent the evening continually bringing up my trans experiences. I suppose they satisfied their curiosity and gained some education, but it left me feeling miserable, exhausted, and totally alone.  

Any final words?

I’d like to invite anyone who is interested in technology and who can make it to join us - you can find out more about Trans*Code at and specifically about our EuroPython event at If you are not trans/NB, you will gain an understanding you didn’t have before. Several people who’ve not had prior contact with trans folk and have attended one of our events, have expressed surprise and delight at the understanding they’ve gained, and the awesome friends that they’ve made.

And if you are trans/non-binary it will be a day to breathe free and just be with others like you, and an opportunity to rekindle hope and reclaim our joy.

The Humans of EuroPython: Laís Carvalho 🍀

Hi, my name is Laís Carvalho and I am a committee member of Python Ireland since 2019 and volunteer organiser of EuroPython since 2020 (the first online edition) and co-organiser of Pyjamas (a Python conference where you can present wearing pajamas) and developer advocate and a plant mom.

My journey into the Python communities started before I could call myself a coder (or a plant parent, even). My motto was “If I want to learn, I will need community support. And no better way to have community support than inserting myself in one”. Hence, the early placement.

What do you do?

I have the healthy habit of playing with Python tools and trying to write about them (wherever people pay me to do it) for a living. I have spoken about those tools in some meetups and conferences around (for more details, have a look at my GitHub profile).

In my spare time, I make fun of things (you should follow me on Twitter) and plan conferences and travel. A bit of yoga and a bit of cooking are also my gigs. I also love dancing, just because some stereotypes are true and I am Brazilian, ya know!

What does your community do?

Python Ireland is a non-profit organisation that aims to promote the use of the Python language in errmm… Ireland! 😆 When I started in 2019, I was the only woman there and it was quite interesting to recruit more volunteers to participate. Today we are three ladies and a few dudes.

I am currently responsible for the Public Relations side of things, such as running the Twitter account and sometimes presenting our monthly meetup, which happens every second Wednesday of the month. We also host a PyCon Ireland (in Dublin) every November, and a PyCon Limerick (in February) and I help run around trying and organise those.

The plans for the future include hosting more conferences in other locations and expanding the meetups to local communities around the country.

Volunteers at Python Ireland 2019 (the last one before the plague)

What motivates you to do voluntary work?

I think the most motivating part of volunteering is the amount of wonderfully smart and dedicated people one meets along the way. It is also significantly gratifying to look at an event that runs purely on goodwill and passion, especially in this world where sometimes money screams louder than anything else.

To volunteer (especially for open source) is like a peaceful protest towards the idea that the best things in life are not things and that free and fun can and should be the only goal sometimes. Finally, it is a great way to go to marvellous events for free! 😛

What excites you the most about being in IE?

Ireland is a wonderful country, with very special people. I moved to the Emerald island around seven years ago and have been calling this land home since then. I made wonderful (local) friends but also bonded with the incredible Brazilian community around here. After all, Irish people are the Brazilians of the EU! And it seems like 10% of the local IT jobs are filled by us.

Will EuroPython in Ireland be taken by Brazilians? We shall see! In any case, you should join us at the Convention Centre Dublin from the 11th to the 17th of July 2022.

And if you are a member of Python Ireland (or any other Python community) we would like to thank your support with a discount code of 10% on your tickets! Send us an email at or DM us on Twitter.

Want to get involved with Python Ireland?