Time to Shine, Ladies! Learning to Code in Canada [Q&A]

Melissa Sariffodeen, the Co-Executive Director of Ladies Learning Code, talks about the coding sensation that’s sweeping the nation.

Nov 12, 2015


Melissa Sariffodeen, the Co-Executive Director of Ladies Learning Code

Melissa Sariffodeen is the Co-Executive Director of Ladies Learning Code

It all started with a tweet. In July of 2011, Heather Payne tweeted about a workshop she would be hosting for women interested in learning how to code. Tickets sold out in one day. What began as a tweet soon grew into Ladies Learning Code, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing digital literacy among Canadian women and youth. Today, this nation-wide operation spans across 22+ cities in Canada, has seen over 24,000 participants, and now includes children as well. From workshops, to summer camps, to National Learn to Code Day, Ladies Learning Code is all about providing women and youth with digital learning opportunities.

In this week’s 10 Good Questions, we heard what Melissa Sariffodeen, the Co-Executive Director of Ladies Learning Code, had to say about this organization’s mission, growth, and reach.

1. What is your organization’s mission?

We're a not-for-profit organization with the mission to be the leading resource for women and youth to become passionate builders - not just consumers - of technology by learning technical skills in a hands-on, social, and collaborative way

2. What makes you guys different from the rest?

We've created an environment that's really welcoming to beginners and especially to women. At our programs, for every four learners there's one volunteer mentor helping them along their learning journey. It's like having one-on-one support. It really makes all of the difference for women and is one of the main reasons a beginner can learn so much in a day.

3. What three words describe your organization?

Beginner-friendly, social and collaborative.

Ladies learning to code

Workshops are designed to be hands-on and interactive, with one mentor for every four learners

4. What inspires you?

We're constantly inspired by our community - the stories of women, men and youth who never thought technology was accessible to them, but have gone on to do some truly remarkable things.

5. Who's your favorite good doer figure?

We're big fans of Justin Trudeau, the newly elected Prime Minister of Canada, and his wife, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau. Their work with youth is truly inspiring. Together, they’re poured a lot into youth employment (his new youth employment strategy is set to create 40,000 jobs annually), education, and athletics.

6. What is the best part about your job?

Making our ideas happen! We had this crazy idea to drive across the country teaching kids to code and with the support of our amazing community we're doing it. This fall, we launched the code:mobilea travelling computer lab on wheels! We'll be driving coast to coast next summer teaching 10,000+ kids to code along the way. 

7. How do you measure success within your organization?

Impact and reach - how many people we're teaching and the positive impact we're having on their lives. That means the world to us.  

Ladies learning code during workshop

Ladies Learning Code hopes to increase the number of women in the tech industry

8. Facebook or Twitter?

Tough question! Our organization started with a tweet so we're very fond of Twitter, but one of our key partners is Facebook and they've helped us do so much for our community.

9. What do you want Goodnet users to know about your organization?

Anyone and everyone is welcome to try our programs out - even if you haven't seen a line of code before!  

10. How can people get involved?

There's tons of ways - as a lead instructor, mentor, volunteer or a learner. Check out ladieslearningcode.com/get-involved.

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