All-ladies organization ‘debugs’ gender gap with CODE documentary

By Jessie Hannah

@jess_e_hannah

We’re a generation raised on The Jetsons: a cartoon world permeated with technology. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, the Jetsons’ world seemed like the distant future and, yet, that is our world today.

Every day there is a new application, software or social platform. Who are the people making this technology?

Though the future of technology is now, the history of gender, race and privilege disparity still exists in the tech industry.

CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap, an American documentary directed by Robin Hauser Reynolds, tackles the issue of women and minorities in software engineering.

The film highlights what could be gained by greater equality within the industry and considers the merits of organizations working to educate women in the field, resulting in more accessibility to technical literacy.

Ladies Learning Code, which has chapters in several major cities across Canada, is doing just that. The organization recently brought the documentary to Vancouver with a screening at the new Telus Gardens (510 West Georgia) in late May.

Ladies Learning Code is a not-for-profit that aims to bring digital literacy across Canada to women, youth and rural communities via workshops.

Classes include beginner workshops teaching HTML & CSS, WordPress, Photoshop, JQuery and more. In addition to Ladies Learning Code, they expanded to include Girls Learning Code and Kids Learning Code. The organization recently launched code:mobile, the first mobile learning lab for code in the country.

Loose Lips spoke with Zoë Alexander, LLC’s Vancouver operations lead, about the documentary screening and how Ladies Learning Code is contributing to the technology environment.

“I guess we’re kind of a launch pad,” she said.

Alexander elaborated that the value in the workshops is that women and youth are introduced to coding in a fun and accepting environment. This builds both skill and confidence to launch into longer programs or pursue online learning.

Community and mentorship are benefits to coming together to learn code.

“You’re with women of all different ages and women mentors,” said Alexander. “I think that that’s really important in any line of work … to have women to look up to who have been in the same place as you­­.”

Her enthusiasm for the community and the attendees was evident.

“It’s so powerful to hear these women’s stories,” she exclaimed, sharing an inspiring story about a mom who took the course to enable more personal and professional confidence.

Robin and Kimberly Bryant, BGC
A film still from CODE, contributed photo.

Alexander organized the Vancouver screening of CODE to share the documentary with their community.

“At first we were looking for spaces to house 50 people and then we had 200 people.”

The film covers a variety of issues regarding under-representation within the industry. Alexander appreciated that the film highlighted not only gender under-representation in tech, but also race and class disenfranchisement.

We asked Alexander what’s coming up next for LLC.

“I’m running our first teen girls workshop on Saturday, June 11 at UBC. We have 90 learners at the LLC event at UBC; we are very excited about it!”

Our technological world begins with code. Thanks to Ladies Learning Code, the tools to participate in the creation of this world are becoming more accessible.

For upcoming Vancouver workshops visit Ladies Learning Code

Follow: TWITTER.COM/LEARNINGCODE

For more information on the documentary visit the CODE website.

Join in the social conversation with the following hashtags: #ladieslearningcode #CODEdoc #womenintech #diversityintech #gendergap.

 

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Jessie is an east coaster attempting to infiltrate west coast culture. Her plethora of disconnected thoughts is expressed most frequently in barely decipherable handwritten letters in which she writes of her fondness for olives, a quality old-fashioned and B.C. wilderness.