About Women Learning to Code

The ratio of Canadian women to men in the STEM sector remains considerably low, as women comprise only 30% of those employed in this sector. To help mitigate the gender disparity in this field, IDRF launched the Women Learn to Code program in April 2018, a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) literacy initiative, to encourage more young women to enter this vibrant sector.

Women Learn to Code provided 32 women between the ages of 18 – 29 with 40 hours of programming language training, specifically in HTML5 and CSS3. Through this supportive and informative program, the program participants were able to overcome their initial hesitation towards the STEM curriculum and gained greater confidence in their coding abilities.

As a result of their considerable hard work, eight of these Women Learn to Code graduates have received full paid scholarships to IDRF’s 400 hour course that prepares them to become full time software developers. We are pleased to report that they will graduate with a 95% chance of employability by March 2019.

An Evening with Women Leaders in Tech

In December 2018, IDRF hosted an event to celebrate the successes of The Women Learn to Code graduates and also highlighted the career paths in the STEM sector. In a panel discussion, Huda Idrees (Founder & CEO of Dot Health), Tory Shoreman (Frontend Developer at Beamworks ES) and Naba Siddiqui (DevOps Engineer, RBC) engaged with our participants by sharing their experience of pursuing careers in the STEM sector. It was an informative and engaging evening that reminded the current coding participants that their job prospects and futures remain bright with the new skills that they have acquired.

Fatima Altaf

Fatima Altaf’s journey to the coding program was truly commendable. In the summer of 2018, she shared a challenging experience from her time in high school with us. “I wasn’t good at Math and Science and struggled a lot. My grade 9 Science teacher had his favourites and sat them in the first two rows. The rest of us sat in the back. He told me I should switch from the advance class to general. It really hurt my self- esteem.” She was only 14 years old and the experience shook her confidence.

Fourteen years later, Fatima learned about the IDRF Women Learn to Code program and signed up. From August to September, she completed the intermediary web training course through Lighthouse Labs. Her web skills are now exceptional and her previous ambivalence towards the STEM fields has vanished. Beyond understanding how to use HTML, CSS3 and JavaScript, Fatima has developed a newfound confidence and her potential to become a leader in the Tech field.