Inspired to Code

My name is Erum and I am a grade 12 student at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate Institute. My role at the YWCA Toronto Girls’ Centre is Media Relations Specialist on the Girls’ Council, which is an advisory committee made up of girls who are interested in advocating for gender equity.

I have visited several tech start-ups as part of a tech field trip with HOHOTO, a collective of compassionate members who care about creating opportunities for girls to experience the tech field. During this tour, we were really excited to go to ecobee – a Canadian smart thermostat company. ecobee started out as a very small company.  Stuart Lombard, ecobee’s founder was a man who was frustrated by his thermostat.  He was fed up with the fluctuations in temperature, so he decided to design a product that met his needs. I was most captivated by his motivation and commitment because others would have probably just given up and walked away, but he chose to develop his ideas into a product that would help millions of people. We wanted to visit ecobee again to better get to know the company and learn about the different roles.

On Friday, February 17, 2017, we had that chance. We returned to ecobee for an interactive workshop. They had all-female staff present to work with us. We arrived around noon and decided to have lunch, while introducing ourselves. We then moved onto another activity that challenged us to think creatively and logistically by designing different screens of a virtual pen-pal app. We were assigned teams, but also asked to individually design our own app.  Using the ‘dotmocracy’ voting method, we chose screen ideas that appealed to us. Our ideas were amalgamated into creating an app that best speaks to and represents our interests. We presented our ideas to the other teams. It sparked an interest in the crowd in the room because our app was quite similar to the most used social media platforms out there like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This group project taught me that the best idea in the room incorporates everyone.

Through these experiences, it has become clear to me that I would like to pursue a career in the tech field.  As I receive more and more opportunities to get involved in STEM-related activities, I have learned that I would like to become a computer engineer.

Through these experiences, it has become clear to me that I would like to pursue a career in the tech field.  As I receive more and more opportunities to get involved in STEM-related activities, I have learned that I would like to become a computer engineer.  I am still trying to figure out ways to apply my coding skills. I hope we can learn more about app design because it is challenging and rewarding.

Receiving hands-on experiences has allowed me to really understand how I learn on my own, as well as on a team. I am excited to bring new skills to the process and I hope to show other girls at the Centre this side of building technology.

I spoke to my peers who were 13 to 15 years of age about their experience.  I was able to collect a few quotes from them:

“It was a really fun and interesting experience and I loved how passionate they are about their careers. It was amazing.”

“ecobee was a really fun and interactive hands on event. I really enjoyed it.”

“The ecobee trip was very informative and fun. I learned a lot.”

I think that we can all agree that having an all-female team work with us that afternoon was not typical.  We often go on different industry tours where there are both males and females who are showing us around and telling us about the agency. We were excited to see great female leaders and hear about their careers and experiences.