Why should we care about how technology really works? Why aren’t more women and youth learning how to code? Heather Payne is asking—and answering—these essential questions. Payne is the founder of Ladies Learning Code, a national not-for-profit organization that runs popular workshops for women and girls, a traditionally underrepresented demographic in the programming world. Named one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network, she is revolutionizing our approach to technology, education, and entrepreneurship.
“If software is created only by a small portion of the population—typically white dudes in their 20s—how is it going to be reflective of society’s needs, and an entire population’s needs?” says Heather Payne. It’s a powerful question that inspired Payne, a business school grad, to encourage thousands of women and girls to learn how to code. To a growing legion of fans, students, and media attention, Heather Payne is transforming the world of tech, startups, and nonprofits.
Since 2011, Payne has quickly expanded Ladies Learning Code from its Toronto headquarters to 11 cities; she also started Girls Learning Code and Kids Learning Code. Her latest venture, the for-profit HackerYou, offers courses taught by industry-leading professionals. She is also the founding director of Toronto’s Mozilla-backed youth digital literacy initiative. Payne has spoken at many conferences, including 99U in New York, meshmarketing, and EdInnovation, and has been featured on CBC’s The National and in The Globe and Mail. She was recently named one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network. She is a graduate of the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University and has worked in corporate marketing and at startups for her entire career so far.
“Heather was absolutely amazing! The content of her presentation was terrific and everyone commented on how great a speaker she was and how much they learned. We are very pleased with the event, and would certainly recommend Heather as a speaker.”YWCA Hamilton