The first ever Ladies Learning Code workshop in Hamilton is happening at Platform 302 on September 21st!
Ladies Learning Code has been doing an incredible job teaching women (and men) how to code in Toronto and in chapters across Canada that run non-profit hands-on workshops. This workshop will be taking place concurrently with others run by Ladies Learning Code across the country as part of National Learn to Code Day.
Erin Laura O’Neil (@erinlauraoneil) is leading the way on bringing the workshop here as part of Mac10. It’s awesome that they’re stepping up and making this happen. The low number of female software developers in our industry is something that all of us are responsible for addressing, along with improving digital literacy in general.
I encourage everyone in our community to get behind Erin, Mac10 and Ladies Learning Code to make this event as successful as possible. If you know HTML and CSS, you can help by signing up to volunteer mentor that day. All of us can spread the word to anyone who may be interested in registering for the event at ladieslearningcode.com/codeday.
Check out this interview with Erin below for more details.
Tell me about yourself.
I work at McMaster for the Alumni Association and adore my job. I coordinate our young alumni program, Mac10, which is there to offer career development and job support to recent graduates, as well as social events and opportunities to come back to the University for lectures and other learning opportunities. Iâ€™m a Mac grad myself, as well as a Mohawk grad, and I have lived in Hamilton since high school.
What can you tell us about Ladies Learning Code and national “Learn to Code” day?
Ladies Learning Code is a not-for-profit that started up in Toronto just over two years ago. They offer one-day classes to women (and men) in a range of coding-related topics â€“ everything from programming languages to Photoshop to 3D printing. Each event is quite intimate, only 40 or so students, and is heavily supported by volunteer mentors from the tech community. Ladies Learning Code guarantees a 4:1 student to mentor ratio, so thereâ€™s always someone to offer a little bit of extra help if you need it. The founder, Heather Payne (who is awesome, as is her whole team), started LLC because she wanted to find a friendly and inclusive way that she herself to learn code. Once she started it up, she realized that Ladies Learning Code and other similar groups could have an impact on the number of women in technology just by creating an easily accessible opportunity for women and girls to get exposed to programming and web-making. Now they have chapters across Canada and a Girls Learning Code and Kids Learning Code series in Toronto, pretty cool.
National â€śLearn to Codeâ€ť Day is incredibly exciting. Itâ€™s taking place in 9 cities across Canada, on the same day, with the same program. The whole LLC team is buzzing about it, and actually Heather will be the lead instructor for our Hamilton day, which is going to be a lot of fun. The day will focus on learning HTML and CSS, but with a focus on a specific project: building a beautiful WordPress site. So at the end of the day, students will have a site of their own that they can use for their business or blog or just to show off!
Why are you bringing Ladies Learning Code to Hamilton?
Iâ€™m an absolute coding n00b (thatâ€™s right, isnâ€™t it?) but Iâ€™ve been attending Ladies Learning Code events in Toronto for a while now and Iâ€™m starting to get the hang of things. Itâ€™s ridiculously fun so I keep going back, and I tell as many people as I can about it. I met with Heather a while ago to talk about doing an event in Hamilton because I knew that our tech community is so robust and so supportive and would help make this event a real success. National Learn to Code Day seemed like the perfect opportunity to make it happen, and Iâ€™m so appreciative of all the help Software Hamilton has offered already. I canâ€™t wait to see dozens of Hamilton ladies learning code together! In my role organizing events for young alumni at McMaster, this also appealed to me as a unique event that we could connect our graduates to through the Alumni Association, so weâ€™re sponsoring the day and offering a discount to our alumni through our site as well.
When and where is the event, and how can people register for it?
National Learn to Code Day is Saturday, September 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and in Hamilton weâ€™ll be at Platform 302, which has generously offered part of the co-working space to us for the event. People can register at www.ladieslearningcode.com/codeday. Weâ€™re also actively looking for mentors who are experienced in HTML and CSS to sign up to be mentors for the day. The link to sign up for mentoring is also available on the code day site.
Why do you think it’s important for more women to learn how to code?
I think itâ€™s important for everyone to learn how to code, not only women, but itâ€™s clear that there is a gender gap in tech. At the last Ladies Learning Code event I attended, I was speaking to the instructor, who works in Toronto at a software company. Of his 80 or so programmer colleagues, only 6 are women, and that ratio is pretty typical. Itâ€™s changing gradually and I think organizations like Ladies Learning Code are fantastic because they demystify coding in a friendly, open environment that is also quite affordable. Iâ€™ve read commentary that says coding will essentially be a required second language for our younger generations entering the job market of the future. I think itâ€™s important for more women to learn how to code now because it opens doors. There are many women who are unfulfilled in their current careers or who are entering second careers after their kids grow up, and theyâ€™re looking for an edge. Coding is a great opportunity for career development because itâ€™s creative, widely applicable, challenging and, as a result, really empowering.
Besides learning HTML & CSS, what do you hope attendees get out of the event?
When Iâ€™ve attended Ladies Learning Code events in the past, Iâ€™ve realized that coding isnâ€™t as hard to learn as I thought and so Iâ€™ve continued learning outside of the classes. My hope is that Hamilton attendees will come away from the event feeling less intimidated by the idea of coding and invigorated to learn more skills on their own. These events also have a great community atmosphere, so I hope attendees come with an open mind and have a really fun time. Iâ€™m also thrilled that weâ€™re hosting the event at Platform 302, an organization that supports young entrepreneurs in Hamilton, so I hope attendees get a chance to explore the facility and see some of the fantastic entrepreneurial work going on in the city.
What can the community in Hamilton do to help you make this event as successful as possible?
Spread the word! Talk about Ladies Learning Code and share the idea with your friends. Weâ€™ll also need mentors for the event, so if youâ€™re enthusiastic about coding and teaching coding, then sign up! The volunteer link is up at www.ladieslearningcode.com/codeday.
How do you hope the Hamilton tech community will benefit from this event?
My hope is that this event will be a celebration of the Hamilton tech community. Hamilton has an incredible tech community that is welcoming and passionate and inventive and enthusiastic, and weâ€™ll get to share that with a class full of people who might not know about this element of the Hamilton community. Also, hopefully, the event will inspire a few people to become passionate about coding and programming, and this will grow the local tech community. At its most basic, I think these events are about celebrating how cool this technology is, and how accessible and empowering it can be, and everyone benefits from that!
Are there any plans for future Ladies Learning Code events in Hamilton?
I hope so! This event is the first in Hamilton, so if itâ€™s well received and popular then I think we can look at doing it again. Iâ€™m looking forward to showing off Hamilton to the Ladies Learning Code team, and I think theyâ€™ll be impressed.
100% agreed! Let’s make September 21st a great day for our community!