Anita Borg Birthday Celebration: Event Review

On Monday night, Her Campus uOttawa ventured farther off campus than we usually do (we actually made it past the Rideau Centre without stopping in to buy something...we're talking to you, Nordstrom) to meet at Cody's Cafe, inside Shopify HQ, to take a stab at coding!

To celebrate Anita Borg's birthday, a computer scientist that paved the way for other females in her field, the women of Shopify got other women in a room, added some pizza and cake, and the result was coding. Disclaimer: you don't actually need pizza and cake to code, but I personally felt it made a difference.

After hearing a great introduction on Computer Science (CS) from Omosola Odetunde, we found out that CS is really just a tool to help you make all your ideas come to life. Then, we broke off into groups and mentors chatted with attendees on topics like "Bridging CS and Everyday Life" or "Advice to My Younger Self". Afterwards, the wonderfully patient and kick-ass teacher Gail Carmicheal got us on our laptops making pictures out of numbers and symbols and...well, code! 

Here's what Gail told us about CS and coding:

"I've always used computers to make things, all the way back to my elementary school days. From video game newsletters for my fifth grade class to posters for Harley Owners' Group events my parents were involved in, I loved to create. In high school, I started to get really curious about how it all worked "behind the screen" and eventually learned to code in university. I've never looked back, thanks to the wide diversity of applications that computer science has. I love how creative you can be with computing, how much of an impact you can make, and how easily you can connect it to whatever you are passionate about."
-Gail Carmichael

Here's what HCuO had to say after the event;

"Before going to the event, I knew I was going to learn how to begin to code. It ended up going way beyond that. I was able to hear from some great mentors who got into the field in both conventional and unconventional ways. It was a fun way to get inspired to continue taking chances on what interests me, and to learn to appreciate adding some tech savvy skills on the side. I'm already looking for ways to learn more about different types of coding software."
-Victoria Racher, External Affairs Intern

"I guess I could say I had some idea of what to expect at Shopify's Anita Borg Birthday Celebration because I have attended a coding workshop in the past. However, that was a little over a year ago and I had a great experience so I was pretty excited about finally attending my second! During the moment of truth, I was pleasantly surprised to find women with various backgrounds, and as little experience as I have, present to soak in some coding knowledge. Seeing as it was an event welcome to non-coders, I absolutely loved that Shopify had Omosola speak to us about her experiences in computer science and showed us the plethora of ways computer science and coding can compliment and be applied to our own interests. Our coding instructor, Gail, was so energetic and clearly passionate about what she was teaching, it made the material all the more interesting. I really appreciated the opportunity to mingle and meet the other women. Overall, the experience was extremely welcoming, not at all intimidating, and fun! The free pizza and cake were just the cherry on top."
-Sarah Zaman, Social Media Intern

"When I first heard about this event, I jumped at the chance to attend. I had been thinking about getting into coding, having had no prior experience with it, and had even made the goal to start learning code this summer. The women at Shopify provided an inspiring and fun introduction to coding that has motivated me even more to stick to my goal.
Hearing from the women at the event about how code allowed them to combine all of their interests, from computer science to discovering new music, proved to me that coding can be useful in all areas of studies and in any interest I may have. It was encouraging to meet and chat with so many women who were so passionate about their work and who were so creative at finding ways to improve life in so many different ways.
Later on in the evening, we gave coding a try ourselves and I am hooked! The feeling you get when your lines of code create a simple picture of a robot is amazing. I would encourage everyone to give coding a try because although your passion may not be computer science, you can use it to further develop your passions, explore new ideas, and create something that is your own.
-Rebecca Visser, Editor of Collegiette Health

“As someone who studies Communication and has a big interest in blogging and digital journalism, I knew that I should familiarize myself with coding at some point. I was always afraid at trying to learn to code because I found it intimidating; however, when I heard about this event, I knew it would be a good starting point, especially because one of my professor’s encouraged me to go. I had a great time dipping my fingers into the world of coding and know that I’ll definitely be back to learn more. I also loved Omosola’s presentation about all the different interests she’s been able to incorporate into her career as a software developer. My favourite part of her presentation was when she explained to us the most recent extra-curricular coding project she had worked on for fun. She decided to create a website that would suggest new music based on individual songs and not artists. I still can’t get over how cool it was that she thought of something that should exist and just straight up created it!”
-Zoë Crego, Co-President 

We'd like to thank the women of Shopify for hosting such an awesome event and for opening the doors for all women who want to get involved with CS and technology!

You can follow Shopify, Omosola, Gail, and Her Campus uOttawa on Twitter. If you'd like to learn to code in Ottawa, check out this Code Night event on Meet Up!


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*Quotes have been altered for length purposes.*