‘Ladies Learning Code’ Teaches Women to Embrace Technology and Learn to Write Code

When it comes to computer programming and totally dominating the tech industry, society and culture has pretty much convinced us that it’s mostly a guy thing.

According to statistics Canada, only about 20% of those who work in science, technology, engineering, and math are women. The rest are men.

There’s a significant gender gap in the STEM career workforce, and not much progress has been made over the last couple of decades or so to close that gap.

Out to break that trend is Ladies Learning Code, a non-profit group of women from Toronto, Ontario that seeks to teach eager beginners the art and science of coding through special events and workshops, which include everything from Photoshop design to JavaScript to mobile programming.

Instructors and volunteers come from all walks of life and are happy to extend their technical knowledge and expertise to those wishing to learn from them. If you can believe it, the all-women non-profit technology group was actually inspired by a simple tweet on Twitter. Group founder Heather Payne tweeted that she wanted to learn how to code and was wondering if any other Toronto ladies wanted to join her in a quest to learn how to code.

As explained in an interview held by The Grid TO, Heather admitted that she tried organizing a small get-together for people who were interested, but to her surprise, 85 people had signed up. Instead of holding a small brainstorming session in a nearby Starbucks as originally planned, the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) offered the group some much needed space to help get things rolling for an initial meeting.

Nearly a month later, her first workshop attracted saw 30 beginner coders show up to learn JavaScript before more than doubling the number of interested participants the month after that.

Of course, the scope of the group’s goals goes beyond its name. Although much of their goals have to deal with teaching women the art of code, Ladies Learning Code is happy to help any beginner enhance their technical skills, including men who have happily decided to attend past workshops.

Not stopping there, Ladies Learning Code has also recognized the need for encouraging children and teens the importance of computer skills and technology. It’s quite clear that modern culture and education has been slow to embrace it, causing younger individuals to shy away from a career in technology.

This March Break (March 12 to 16, 2012), Ladies Learning Code is holding a tech camp for girls who are creative and have big dreams to change to the world. Inspired by the original all-women group, this tech camp for girls, called Girls Learning Code, will teach young girls about technology through a series of creative activities that will involve much more than simply just sitting in front of a computer screen and tapping away at the keyboard.

Ladies Learning Code and Girls Learning Code will definitely be something to watch out for in the future as we shift further toward a tech-driven society and more people find the need to expand their technical knowledge and skills.