New group helps women embrace their inner geek
Chic Geek started offering courses in January
A new community group wants to empower women to bring out their inner geek by teaching different aspects of computer programming.
On Saturday, dozens came out to a workshop offered by Chic Geek in Calgary. It focused on helping women learn the basics of coding for Wordpress, a popular web design program for blogging and building websites.
"We wanted to really celebrate our tech-y and our geeky side," said Chic Geek co-founder Kylie Toh. "We wanted to learn how to program and we wanted a community of other women to learn that with and there wasn't anything in Calgary to help support that so we were just like, 'we'll create it then!'"
Chic Geek started offering workshops in January and hosts a variety of events featuring guest speakers, coding lessons and documentary screenings.
It's all aimed at encouraging women to feel comfortable and confident working with the language of computer programming.
Women under-represented in industry
Over the last two decades, numbers from Statistics Canada suggest that the number of females graduating from university programs in computer science has remained the same, while the number of male graduates has increased roughly 50 per cent.
Those numbers also suggest there were about twice as many male computer science graduates as women in 1992 and three times as many in 2007.
Chic Geek is part of a recent wave of initiatives that aim to bring women into the computer sciences industry.
In Toronto, a non-profit called Ladies Learning Code hosts similar events and also runs a community outreach program.
The founders of that organization have also started offering technology camps and workshops for girls aged nine to 13.
Canadian universities such as the University of Toronto, University of British Columbia and University of Waterloo also have committees and networking groups to help bring more women into computer sciences.
The opportunity to network is one of the perks for many of the women taking part in Chic Geek's courses.
"Getting together with the Chic Geek girls is always fun," said Robyn Warsylewicz.
It's that social aspect of the group that organizers say makes everyone feel welcome — and, they hope, more likely to keep coming back.