Three years ago, I began my exploration of Calgary’s technology and startup scene. Fueled by curiosity and inspired by the passion of other entrepreneurs, I decided to learn to code. I didn’t know the first thing about programming and I had questions like, “Isn’t ruby a type of stone?” I went on a mad search to find resources to help me learn to code: online tutorials, Meetup groups, even continuing education classes.
Nothing was the right fit. I’m a social learner who thrives on collaborating with others, learning in teams, and talking through challenges. I needed a face-to-face community of other women who were just as excited about coding, technology and startups as I was. I realized:
There was nothing in Calgary to support women interested in technology.
I decided to change that. Chic Geek was born – an organization that envisions more women as makers, builders and creators leveraging technology to change the world. And when we launched in February 2013, we did it hand-in-hand with Ladies Learning Code.
Chic Geek launched the first Ladies Learning Code chapter in Western Canada.
Ladies Learning Code is a national non-profit headquartered in Toronto. They run basic programming workshops for women and girls. We partnered with them because the two organizations, together, brought more value to our community: Ladies Learning Code had the curriculum and framework to provide basic coding workshops. Chic Geek was the community around that, supporting women in their journeys outside of the classroom, providing a meeting space and other professional development opportunities.
It’s been almost 3-years and Calgary’s ecosystem has evolved in a way we should be proud of.
There are more groups that support women in technology: NerdLabYYC, CanWIT and Knovo, to name a few. We have companies clamoring to support diversity in technology. We have a community bursting with women excited to explore their technical and entrepreneurial sides! This is a far cry from the my first foray into the technology and startup ecosystem.
In light of these changes, I’m excited to announce that:
Chic Geek and Ladies Learning code are separating so we can continue serving the
needs of our community.
It sounds like a scary change, but it’s a truly positive step forward. To support the expansion of Ladies Learning Code, and continue to run Chic Geek programs with impact, we needed to give each other room to do what we do best. Ladies Learning Code and Girls Learning Code will continue running basic programming workshops in Calgary. Chic Geek will continue to be the welcoming, supportive, beginner-friendly community for women exploring technology and entrepreneurship; offering mentorship, networking and practical bite-size learning opportunities (learn more).
We continue to support each other and this separation gives us the opportunity to focus on the things we do really well.
The fact that Calgary can support Chic Geek, Ladies Learning Code, NerdLabYYC, CanWIT and Knovo is a reflection on the evolution of our community. I’m so excited to be a part of that change and to continue building a more diverse technology landscape in our city.
What are your thoughts on Calgary’s ecosystem around women, technology and entrepreneurship? Feel free to jump in or send us a tweet at @chicgeekyyc
Written by Kylie Toh
Kylie started the Chic Geek because she wanted to see more women celebrate technology and discover their inner nerd. With a background in public relations and branding, and branding, and a passion for startups, Kylie guides the strategic vision of the Chic Geek. Connect with Kylie on Twitter.