Posted by Heather Payne

Heather is a founder of Ladies Learning Code and HackerYou, was an early investor in ShopLocket, and was recently named one of Canada's 100 most powerful women.

So, Who’s Instructing the First-Ever Ladies Learning Code Workshop?

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Ever since launching #ladieslearningcode a bit over a month ago, the support from Toronto’s developer community has been incredibly heart-warming and super encouraging. Our developer email list (for people interested in helping us as instructors) has grown to over 50 people in just a few weeks. Even though we launched our August 6th workshop (and guaranteed a 4:1 student-to-instructor ratio) without confirming with any potential instructors about getting involved, we felt confident that the developer community would come together and support us. And have they ever.

So, who’s instructing the first-ever #ladieslearningcode workshop? Check out the bios below to find out!

Lead Instructor: Pearl Chen (@androidsnsheep | Google+)
Research & Tech Manager at CFC Media Lab

Why is Ladies Learning Code important to you?

For my entire professional career (especially while freelancing as a web developer), I have never found myself working with another professional female developer (except once when I was involved in the hiring process). So…where are you, ladies? What scared you off? I hope Ladies Learning Code will help me answer this.




Crystal Preston-Watson (@jadedskipping |
Owner, Discrete Signal

Why is Ladies Learning Code important to you?

#ladieslearningcode is important to me because I think it can be it a key element in destroying the myth that women can’t (or don’t want to) be programmers. By reaching out to women who are interested and desire to learn programing and giving them not only the tools but a supportive environment to learn, we not only shape their futures but the future of tech as a whole.


Amrita Mathur (@amritamathur |
Director, Marketing at PriceMetrix Inc.

Though Amrita won’t be instructing (she started her career as a developer but is a marketer now), she has been an enormous help in planning and prepping for the workshop.

Why is Ladies Learning Code important to you?

Having worked in the high-tech sector all my life, I had almost come to accept a work environment that was male dominated. I was on a lot of sports teams as a kid, plus I took Computer Science in University (with all of 11 women in my class), so working and dealing with men has never been an issue.

What has been a problem though is a lack of the female perspective in product development, design and user experience. As more and more consumer apps and products come out, I find myself thinking – hey, wouldn’t it be better if women designed this stuff?! So many of these products are social, and women currently dominate social media and social product usage. Then how come women aren’t developing and designing these products? Doesn’t it make sense that women have more ownership of these products?

It was so obvious. We absolutely needed to see more women in tech… and in development and design specifically!

This is a big part of why I relished the chance to join and grow LadiesLearningCode in Toronto. My selfish motivation of course is that I would welcome and enjoy having more women to work with in the tech industry; but more than that, I wish to eventually help change the thinking of younger women getting into schools and colleges. I want them to understand that being in tech doesn’t have to be mind-numbing or painful, but rather an opportunity to shape the technologies that propel our lives.

I am grateful and enthusiastic to have joined a group of rich, diverse women to help make this happen.

Mike Conley (@mike_conley |
Thunderbird Developer at Mozilla

What are you passionate about?

The web!  Keeping the web open and accessible as a communications and innovations medium.  When I’m not working on Thunderbird, I enjoy working on open-source software (Review Board, MarkUs), and writing music / doing sound design for independent theater companies in Toronto.

Why did you decide to get involved with Ladies Learning Code?

I was referred by Greg Wilson, my M.Sc. supervisor.

Gavin Lobo
University of Ontario Institute of Technology, grad student, research assistant, tutorial instructor

What are you passionate about?

Teaching,  Science, Mathematics,  Programming

Why did you decide to get involved with Ladies Learning Code?

I thought it was a great idea to encourage women to get involved with programming!


Jay Goldman (@jaygoldman |
VP Strategy at Klick

Special thanks to Jay and his team at Klick for hosting our workshop dry run on August 3rd. We appreciate it!)

What are you passionate about?

My beautiful daughter, Sophie. Having her fundamentally changed everything in my life. It made me want to reshape this world for her — to fill it with sunshine and possibilities and open doors. She just turned two and is working hard on colours and the alphabet, so JavaScript might be a little advanced, but I’ll bring out to one of the future events 🙂

Why did you decide to get involved with Ladies Learning Code?

I have a deep technology background and have always fought against the male domination of my industry, trying hard to create opportunities for women whenever possible. Sophie has only accelerated that, and #ladieslearningcode is an excellent first step toward making sure she has a future in this business if she wants it.

Phyliss Lee (@phyllers |
Research Technician at the Princess Margaret Hospital

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about getting more women in technology and engineering, but also interested in human computer interaction and user experience design.

Why did you decide to get involved with Ladies Learning Code?

I think that it’s important for more women to to get into technology and engineering. As a teenager I was told that I shouldn’t go into computer science because it was all men, but being female shouldn’t be a limitation on what I can and can not become. In a graduating high school class of 80 young women, only 5 went into a technical (engineering or computer science) field. I want to see more women becoming software developers and engineers.

Christina Truong (@christinatruong |
Front-end Developer at Teehan+Lax

Christina will be presenting one of two “Lightning Talks” at our August 6th workshop. We hope she’ll hang around for a bit with us, too!

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about the web industry of course! In addition to that I love food and trying different restaurants and I LOVE SHOES!  I have 30+ pairs.

Why did you decide to get involved with Ladies Learning Code?

I thought it was a good opportunity to get more women involved in the technology field and to be an example for those who may be interested in getting into the development side of things.  I also hope to help those who are non-developers but work in the web industry to get more of an understanding of what exactly web developers do.

Laurie MacDougall Sookraj (@lmds)
Senior Analyst @ University Health Network

What are you passionate about?

Taking broken software and making it work, building stuff that’s useful to people and helps them to do their work more effectively.  Also hammocks, cupcakes, and martinis.

Why did you decide to get involved with Ladies Learning Code?

Seemed like a good way to encourage people to get involved with technology, which can sometimes be intimidating, especially for women in a world where the gender imbalance in computer science often looks like 10 men to every 1 woman.  It’s fun to see the satisfaction of making something work that you built yourself, and of learning something new, especially for people who have never done this sort of thing before.

Svetlana Kolupaeva (@skolupaeva)
Java developer / Team leader @ Exigen

Why did you decide to get involved with Ladies Learning Code?

Oh, I had plenty of reasons and it was a perfect timing for me to run into #ladieslearningcode on the web 🙂
I’m new to Toronto. I am a woman in technology. And I feel doing ‘the right thing’ by supporting ideas that touch me.



Monika Piotrowicz
Interactive Developer

What are you passionate about?

I absolutely love being a web developer.  I feel so lucky  to be in a field where I can collaborate with people and learn new things every day.  Whether it’s fixing a bug, or seeing a site go live, it’s very rewarding to know that I’m part of building something that hopefully others may find useful, informative, or entertaining. When I’m not in front of a screen, I love trying out new recipes, watching movie marathons, and playing the very distinguished sport of dodgeball! 🙂

Why did you decide to get involved with Ladies Learning Code?

I thought this sounded like a great initiative to introduce web development to women and also saw it as a chance to meet some like-minded ladies!  The Toronto tech scene in general is a really great community, so I also wanted to give something back.  I hope there will be more and more Ladies Learning Code after this event!

Melissa Luu (@melissa_s_luu)
Interface developer at Nurun

What are you passionate about?

Traveling and food.

Why did you decide to get involved with Ladies Learning Code?

I decided to get involved with Ladies Learning Code because I would like to help educate others with what is involved in the web development. This includes providing new developers with insight into this field and also helping marketers and PMs understand the real complexity of the web development process.

Emir Hasanbegovic (@phigammemir |
Agile Engineer at Xtreme Labs Inc.

What are you passionate about?

Developing core infrastructures that can be used as tools over and over again.

Why did you decide to get involved with Ladies Learning Code?

(From the editor: Emir neglected to include a response here, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he is helping us out on August 6th because his girlfriend – and my very good friend – @lauralynplant is reponsible for Developer Outreach…and yes, that means you should contact her if you’d like to run a workshop! If you just want to help out, join our developer email list.)

Jon Lim (@jonlim |
Product Manager of PostageApp, The Working Group

Jon will be our official photographer and videographer on August 6th. Smile, everyone!

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about building awesome things, or helping other people build awesome things. If I love your cause or your project, I will probably sing about it from the mountain tops.

Why did you decide to get involved with Ladies Learning Code?

At The Working Group, we have a team of amazing coders who produce quality code and it was a no-brainer to get involved. In addition, I could personally contribute with my camera, and what a better way to document all of the amazing women (and men!) who are involved in the process.

Thank you to everyone who has offered to help us…

There are too many of you – it will have to be an entirely different blog post. Plus, it’s 1:45 am and I want to go to bed.

Can’t wait for August 6th!

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