Ladies Learning Code in Hamilton

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This week we’re focusing on women in tech since we’re speaking at CREST – Current Research in Engineering, Science, and Technology – this Friday.

Ladies Learning Code is a not-for-profit organization that strives to be the leading resource for women and youth to become passionate builders – not just consumers – of technology by learning technical skills in a hands-on, social, and collaborative way. Classes are run in 21 cities across Canada from London all the way up to Whitehorse.

SACHA chatted with Meg Smith, a local web designer and the Hamilton Chapter Co-Lead of Ladies Learning Code. Meg  got involved with LLC when she attended an LLC event and was so impressed at the inclusive environment, the ease of learning and how inspiring it was to see other women working in the industry already.

Why is it so important that women learn code?

I wouldn’t say that it’s important that all women must learn code, but more that it’s important that if they want to they should have a barrier-free experience doing so.

We strive to create a safe, supportive environment where women (and men!) can learn to code and gain the confidence to keep going. 

The more women we teach, the more women will enter the workforce and make the existing gender gap less prominent and inspire other women to do the same!  Learning code can boost confidence, create new job opportunities and is a really exciting hobby- it really benefits everyone who gives it a shot.

What is special about women learning from other women?

I think creating a safe, supportive place for women is so crucial, whether we are learning from other women or men who support us.

Everyone who is mentoring at the events was once a beginner too and we remember what it was like to take that first step to learn.  It can be intimidating, but the environment at the Ladies Learning Code classes is welcoming and beginner-friendly with the support of all our great mentors and instructors.

Working with women specifically in the LLC community has been very inspiring, because I look to their successes and feel encouraged to keep going with my learning as well so I can create better things through technology.  I am sure our learners feel the same way.

What keeps women from learning code?

Programming is still largely a male dominated field.  I am lucky enough to work with some amazing male developers at factor[e] design initiative that welcome women and want to support them in learning to code, but it’s not always this way in other work places. Sometimes it becomes a bit of a boys club and the environment can become unwelcoming to downright hostile towards women (see any article on Gamergate).

Where do you see women in tech in five years?

Locally, I hope to see more female developers in Hamilton.  It is a lot more common to see female developers in larger city centres and it would be great to see more women programming here.

I know some are out there, but it’s nowhere near the percentages of women in tech I’ve seen in larger cities. Globally, I think we’re going to see more women supporting each other and pushing through the difficulties that can sometimes come with having a job in a male dominated field.

I would love to see that gender gap close and see it be a more equitable industry for everyone.

What keeps you involved in Ladies Learning Code?

The attitude that women can’t do it motivates me every day, because I know we can! I’ve met so many intelligent female developers working with LLC, and seen so many women start their journey by coming to a class and slaying it!

Personally, I recall being at a women’s networking night a few years ago where I was telling a man what I did at work and he remarked, “You don’t look like you create websites!”  It was such a ridiculous thing to say, but the stereotype of what a developer is typically doesn’t look like a woman.  I want to change that perspective by continuing to learn to code and encouraging other women to do the same.

The next Ladies Learning Code event in Hamilton is CCS for Beginners – March 24-31.  More information here.

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