A while back, I wrote a blog on the state of coding in our public education system (here if you want a refresher). As I was browsing about, researching the topic, I noticed a couple of references to an organization called Ladies Learning Code. The organization uses the skills and good will of women in different communities to teach coding to other women.
I filed it in a “think about this later” part of my brain then promptly forgot about it. Then, last week, I came across a tweet from the group looking for volunteers in Edmonton to teach some seminars. I was intrigued. I realized that I had assumed that Ladies Learning Code was a US thing and that Canada would lag behind in this initiative.
Wrong. They are based in Toronto. They provide seminars in Toronto, Halifax, Edmonton, Calgary, London (Ont) and Montreal.
The Ladies Learning Code group is out there doing a great thing. They are sharing their knowledge and skills, probably hard-won and self-taught, with other women, men, girls and kids.
Why is this cool, you ask?
For one, there are not many women who code professionally. There are still a few lingering stereotypes about the nerdiness of coding and without some positive role models, getting girls and young women to consider computer science as a viable (and cool) career option is challenging.
As in any profession, seeing someone with whom you can identify succeed can really spur you to consider it for yourself. Young women and girls don’t necessarily see themselves as coders because most of the programmers they know about are men.
For another, computer programming is considered to be a solo undertaking, self-taught in dim basements with only a rubber duck for company. For people that enjoy the social aspects of work and learning, this can be daunting.
That’s why it’s cool that people can come out to seminars and actually interact with a wider community while they learn to program. It’s not just women either. Anyone is welcome to come out to the seminars.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I like these online grassroots movements. They are an easy way to connect to a community that wants to share their knowledge. I also like when online movements bring together like-minded people in the offline world. That’s powerful.
So coders, what do you think? Do you feel there’s a benefit to having a community to share with and learn from? What about you non-coders? Would you dabble more in coding if you knew you could meet people and have fun with it?