By Karlie Mickanuik
Leah Elzinga is a product owner at ATB financial, a NAIT graduate, a single mom and an advocate for women working in the technology industry.
Elzinga works with organizations that create safe spaces for women to learn technology skills with each other. Elzinga also aims to create a world that her daughters can be proud of.
In highschool Elzinga was never told about potential jobs in any engineering or technology fields although she excelled in those classes.
“When I was in school, I was encouraged to take on technology. [However] nobody ever actually explained to me, as a teenage girl, what my options were. I didn’t know what engineering was and I was too embarrassed to ask because nobody had ever talked to me about it even though…I was taking every computer class I could find, nobody ever talked to me about how that might be a career for me,” said Elzinga.
Elzinga was inspired to go back to school to NAIT after attending a workshop put on by Ladies Learning Code which is an organization dedicated to creating a safe space for women to learn the skill of coding.
“It was just this big group of women that was super diverse that looked like me that were just crushing it. When I asked about where I should go back to school, they told me what to do and gave me really good advice and I was super inspired. The next day I applied to NAIT,” said Elzinga.
Elzinga continued to work with Canada Learning Code and Ladies Learning Code during her time at NAIT.
A year out of school she took on all of the youth programming for Edmonton.
The last year Elzinga worked with the organization, she ran all the programming for the entire city. Elzinga wanted to give back to the organization for changing her life for the better.
“The simple fact is, there is a program that I went to that was an introduction [to coding] and it had women that looked like me, it was so incredibly valuable and powerful, and it really did change my life,” said Elzinga.
“I feel smart again, which is something that depressingly a lot of women especially when they get into their thirties are starting to feel like they’re not smart anymore. That’s just not true. They just haven’t found that passion.”