July 7, 2014 4:29 pm

Non-profit workshops teach women how to code

Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press/File

TORONTO- Ladies Learning Code is a series of workshops teaching women how to create everything including games, apps and websites.

Ladies Learning Code launched their first workshop on August 6th 2011 and since then the program has grown to become a national not-for-profit organization operating in 18 regions across Canada.

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“We run workshops for women who want to learn beginner friendly computer programming skills and other technical skills in a social and collaborative way,” said Heather Payne, founder of Ladies Learning Code.

Payne founded the organization after she began learning to code herself in 2009.

“I had just graduated from university and thought that I would have a better chance at getting a cool first job if I knew how to code,” Payne said. “I just started learning on my own using Google and sort of figuring it out but I realized after doing that it wasn’t really the easiest way.”

Payne makes sure her team works hard to empower women of all ages to feel comfortable and passionate about building websites. One of those women, Danielle Webb, attended a few workshops before deciding to pursue a career in the tech industry.

“I attended my first ladies learning code workshop back in the fall of 2011,” Webb said. “It really gave me a good taste of what the tech industry was all about, what coding was all about and I really just fell in love with it, I’m now working for myself as an independent web developer.”

The workshops have a 4 to 1 ratio of learners to volunteer mentors. The volunteers are local tech professionals who donate their time and knowledge to teach the workshops. Christina Truong is a web developer and mentor for Ladies Learning Code.

“I wanted to show other women that you can do this and especially because my background wasn’t the typical technical route,” Truong said. “I don’t have a computer science degree, I wanted to show them that if I can do it, they can do it.”

Heather Payne is working hard to close the gender technology gap and influence a diverse technology industry through the various workshops held at Ladies Learning Code.

“There’s definitely still a gap in the technology industry,” Payne said. “But I think in general people are starting to recognize that diversity is important, diverse teams lead to better results.”



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