OTTAWA LADIES LEARNING CODE

When was the last time you felt like a beginner?

Last Saturday, November 24, the Ottawa chapter of Ladies Learning Code held it’s inaugural workshop ‘Intro to HTML & CSS’ at the Shopify Lounge.   Founded June 2011 by Toronto’s Heather Payne, Ladies Learning Code is a non-profit organization on a mission to empower women and girls by teaching beginner technical skills, including web design and basic coding.  In just over a year, more than 1000 women have participated in full-day workshops, and demand continues to grow – as evidenced by the sold out crowd at Saturday’s event.

Ottawa native Nicole Belanger initiated contact with Ladies Learning Code earlier this year after looking around for a female-friendly place to learn to code as a beginner.   Fast forward a few months, and she is now Chapter Lead with a hugely successful workshop already under her belt.  Saturday’s session, taught by Christina Troung was attended by 50 learners who were provided additional support from 13 local tech-savvy volunteer mentors.

This girlaboutOtown was among those discovering HTML & CSS last Saturday, and boy-o-boy, it’s been awhile since I’ve been so close to the bottom of a learning curve!  Having blogged for several years now, and being a business-owner, I thought it would be wise to know more about what happens behind the ‘virtual’ scenes.   Even more importantly, I’ve come to believe wholeheartedly in the power of technology to play a positive role in women’s lives, and I want my daughter to know what is possible.  So, I signed up and set out early on a Saturday morning in a snow storm to put my personal philosophy to the test.

Am I ever glad I did!  By all appearances, workshop attendees were an assorted group including students, professionals, and entrepreneurs alike.  While I certainly wasn’t the youngest woman in the room, I wasn’t the oldest either – which once again suggests that tackling technology has more to do with attitude than age, gender, or background.  Regardless of their reason for learning code, these ladies (and yes, a few men) all recognize the incredible benefits of better technology skills.

There is no doubt there is a lot to learn if I am to become proficient at coding completely on my own, but in addition to feeling empowered,  I’m already ahead in practical terms.  I don’t pretend it was an easy day, or that I mastered the basics super-fast, but even my rudimentary understanding brings me forward.  I now know the go-to resources, the  proper lingo, and what to look for when I need help!  In other words, I will be able tinker with small stuff when necessary without asking a man, and speak intelligently when a complex situation demands.

So yes, I’m a willing convert to the ‘girls who code’ club.  Beginner maybe, but the tech bug has officially bitten me!   Whenever I can, here’s where I’ll be hanging out in an effort to continuously improve:

Photos by me.
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