Girls Who Code event aims to close gender gap in Quebec's tech field

The Montreal initiative Les Filles et le code, or Girls Who Code, dedicated a career day to young women interested in information technology.

Montreal initiative Les Filles et le code put on a career day for young women interested in IT

The event is aimed at encouraging young women who want to get into the IT industry. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

When it comes to jobs in the local tech field, women are still vastly outnumbered by men.

That's why the Montreal initiative Les Filles et le code, or Girls Who Code, put on a career day for young women interested in information technology.

The event was held Saturday at the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) in Montreal.

About 200 participants had the chance to attend workshops and lectures, and meet with panelists working in the field.

"The girls who are here today are in CEGEP and university, which are times when we choose what we want to become, what we want to explore," said panelist Cassie Rhéaume, a director at mobile software development company LightHouse Lab.

Girls Who Code, an initiative led by Concertation Montréal, is only in its first year of existence. In the short term, its goal is to get girls into the information technology (IT) field as soon as they turn 12.

'A model for young girls'

In 2016, a study by TECHNOcompétences revealed that women represent 20 per cent of IT professionals in Quebec.

"There are women who have managed to break into the market, so it is possible, and we must provide a model for young girls," said Richard Deschamps, Concertation Montréal's president.

In the classroom, the gender disparity is also clear.

Marie-Philippe Gill is a software engineering student at ÉTS who also runs a blog called GirlsKnowsTech. (Radio-Canada)

"We have between two to five girls per 45 students," said Marie-Philippe Gill, a software engineering student at ÉTS who also runs a blog called Girl Knows Tech.

She said there should be more events like this to encourage young women to join the industry.

"This kind of day is perfect because if we're the only women in our classes, like me in CEGEP, it makes it difficult to meet other women in computer science," Gill said.

Based on a report by Radio-Canada