Ladies Learning Code: We Want to Remind Everyone That Code Doesn’t Care What Gender You Are

It’s not unusual for Vancouver’s Launch Academy offices to be filled with diligent coders. Nor is it unusual for people to be working away on a Saturday. Time waits for no startup.

However, this was only the third time that their Hastings Street offices were lucky enough to host Vancouver’s chapter of Ladies Learning Code. On Saturday, Ladies Learning Code held their seminar teaching Ruby, a valuable tool in any web developer’s arsenal.

The six hour curriculum introduced the audience to the basic principles, techniques, tricks and history of the language, while providing not only first rate instruction from Chris Nicola, but enough mentors to have each table of four supervised and guided by an expert. The course was divided into two halves; a three hour introductory section and a two and a half hour workshop where students were encouraged to pursue the furthest limits of their new-found Ruby skills—with their mentor’s supervision, that is.

Tea Nicola, the Chapter Head of Vancouver’s LLC, originally found out about the organization the way so many tech-heads do: Twitter.

“I got in touch with her, and she came to help set up just after the GROW conference,” Tea told Techvibes. “The entire team came, and the instructor for the HTML/CSS seminar came out. Now, they’re starting in Ottawa next month. They’re planning to expand to some other cities as well. Waterloo is next.”

Wherever the organization is headed, it certainly has found a home in Vancouver.

“I can’t be happier,” Tea says. “There’s a lot of meet-up groups in town, and sometimes when people are beginner programmers and they don’t know where to start…some of the sessions can be intimidating for people who are beginners. We make a point of saying, ‘You do not need to know anything about programming to come here,’ which destroys that initial barrier and brings more women in. I’ve been in programming all my life, I have an engineering degree, and I wanted to give back to the community.”

And the community obviously wanted to give back to them—the enthusiasm of the students was matched by the excitement of their mentors. Angelina Fabbro, a software engineer and cognitive scientist at Steam Clock Software, mentored at LLC’s HTML/CCS event, and happily returned to the fold on Saturday.

“People told me they needed mentors, and I said okay. I’ve been programming for many years, making sites since I was 12, and I’m stubborn,” she told Techvibes. “When people tell me I shouldn’t do something, that’s when I decide to do it. From being around here in the industry, I’ve seen the way women can get discouraged from coding. There can be a lot of ego and attitude around it.”

“Anybody who wants to learn coding without the pressure to be good really quickly is welcome here,” she adds. “A lot of the time women are scared of coding—and then when the workshop goes along, they’re just giving ‘er and they’re writing code that’s more advanced than the presentation is! In the past fiveyears I’ve had a lot of people try to discourage me from coding, insecure people. There’s this incorrect idea that coding is for men. But the code doesn’t care what gender you are.”

That’s an attitude that was clearly shared by Ray Walia, Executive Director of Launch Academy.  The location of the next event, a WordPress seminar to take place October 20, is still unknown thanks to Launch Academy’s likely move. But if it can be Launch Academy, it will be. 

“We’ll do whatever we can to support them,” he affirmed. “The more people we have entering development, it’s better. It’s better for everybody. If we get more women, we’re all for it.”

It’s hard to imagine anyone who wouldn’t be.