07 Oct Seven on Seven: Melissa Sariffodeen
Meet Melissa Sariffodeen.
Melissa is a social entrepreneur, leader and big thinker. She is the co-founder and CEO of both Ladies Learning Code and Canada Learning Code. Her ventures have established her as a fierce advocate for women and youth. Ladies Learning Code (LLC) has championed digitial literacy for Canadians. It has inspired many women and youth to explore the coding world. Through this program, they gain critical coding skills, confidence, and newfound opportunities. Technology is constantly changing, and having necessary coding skills can really set an individual apart from their competitors. Additionally, with their new tech knowledge, they can become passionate builders of their own tecnology!
A proud Canadian, Melissa Sariffodeen has paved the path of success for many other Canadian women and youth. Her program, LLC, has taught over 60,000 Canadians. Melissa and her team have built a variety of programs including: programming for adult women, Girls Learning Code, and co-ed, Kids Learning Code. Most recently, Melissa has introduced the Teachers Learning Code program, which is built to provide educators with necessary skills to grow as tech builders.
Melissa has been featured in national media outlets such as CTV, CBC and The Globe & Mail. In addition to this, she had also landed a spot on Elle Canada’s list of 9 Canadian Women Making a Difference. She’s spoken on the TEDx stage, and hosted PM Justin Trudeau to participate in a coding workshop in 2016.
When Melissa isn’t busy coding, she’s probably watching Harry Potter. She is a diehard Potterhead! In fact, one of the first sites Melissa built was a sorting hat game.
1. Are high schools in North America teaching coding as much as they should be?
“In some provinces and territories (and states in the US) all students are required to learn Computer Science, whereas in others, these classes are electives. For some, Computer Science education is integrated throughout a variety of subjects while for others it is an extracurricular activity. And in some cases, there is little or no opportunity for students to learn it. We want students who can be both users and makers of digital technologies and who, because of their abilities, can enjoy and harness the power of these new tools and so we think there’s definitely room for more computer science learning opportunities – and parents and students alike agree and are asking for more!”
2. If not, why?
“There are a lot of reasons why there isn’t more computer science in classrooms but what we’re focusing primarily on is how we can best support teachers to feel empowered and equipped to introduce coding and computer science to their students.”
3. What are some careers coding graduates can pursure?
“So many including most that haven’t even been created yet. I always think it’s so interesting that there’s a whole field of voice assistant technology roles that didn’t exist before Siri or Alexa.”
4. What inspired you to start Ladies Learning Code?
“We really wanted to learn to code ourselves! I had taught myself to code when I was 11 but lost touch and it wasn’t until after I graduated from a business program and immersed myself in the tech industry in Toronto that I realized those skills would be really useful in whatever I wanted to do next. Our founding team (and turns out a lot of our learners!) were all in pretty much the same situation – had an interest or curiosity and there weren’t really any places for beginners to learn at the time and definitely not workshops that were explicitly welcoming for women. So we changed that :)”
5. What was your favourite subject at school?
“I really loved all of the STEM subjects – math, science, computer science.”
6. What is your favourite activity on a rainy day?
Spending time with my family and doing some sort of craft – I love to build and make things. Right now, I’m making my own reusable beeswax wrapping paper for gifts.
7.Tell us which Harry Potter book is your favourite!