Celebrating Women in STEM

Photo of Wendy Warren

In honour of International Women’s Day, Coldfront Labs is celebrating our front-end developer, Wendy Warren. Wendy has been a member of our team for just over a year and she has produced amazing work for our clients, such as the Ottawa Public Library and Canadian Blood Services.

Describe yourself in three words: Considerate, quirky, creative.

What brought you into the world of web design and front-end development?

My foray into the web design world actually started in sales. I worked as an Interactive Project Manager for Corus Entertainment where I managed online web projects within the sales department. I soon realize I would rather write code than write proposals.

I moved back to Ottawa and enrolled in the Interactive Multimedia Program at Algonquin College. The eight-month intensive program covered all areas of the web development world – design, front-end development, and programming. I was especially inspired by one of our instructors to pursue the industry. His love for all things web was completely infectious.

What do you love most about the work that you do?

Each day provides new challenges so my work never feels stale. I am always challenged to problem-solve because each project is so different. And, technology is always advancing, so I am always learning new things, which I really enjoy.

What do you find most challenging about the work you do?

The same reasons that I love my work can also be what I find most challenging. Sometimes, the problem isn’t easily solved. But, being resourceful, and having a genuine interest in learning, always helps.

You’re involved in the Ottawa chapter of Ladies Learning Code (LLC). Tell us a bit about your work with them.

I was introduced to Ladies Learning Code in February 2015. I started out as a mentor and enjoyed attending workshops to help learners so much that I wanted to commit myself to a larger role. When an opening for a Youth Lead presented itself, I jumped on the opportunity! I love organizing and engaging in our youth workshops once a month for girls and boys between ages 8-14. It’s an amazing community and it’s been really rewarding to network with people of similar interests and build more of a presence within Ottawa.

What drew you to the organization?

LLC provides women and youth in our community with an opportunity to be passionate builders of technology as opposed to just consumers. Our workshops teach learners the technical skills in a hands-on, social, and collaborative way. I love the sense of empowerment we share with our learners.

What’s the best moment you’ve had working with Ladies Learning Code?

Oh! There are so many to reference. But, one that stands out is when a mother brought both of her daughters to a workshop where one was ecstatic and ready to learn with the other daughter dreading what was ahead. Within 30 minutes, both were diving into the material and genuinely proud of what they were creating. Their eyes lit up every time they made something work. It was the realization that they were capable of accomplishing the task and the boost of confidence that was so amazing to witness.

What drew you to Coldfront?

It’s important to me that I’m not only a proper fit (technically and personality-wise) for a company but that they equally have to be an appropriate fit for me. Coldfront offered an opportunity to continue professional growth within a collaborative and supportive environment. Based on positive feedback from current employees and their quality of job satisfaction, I decided to explore the world of Drupal and learn from some of the best out there.

What’s your favourite project that you’ve worked on at Coldfront Labs?

I really enjoyed the Economic Benefit Report for the Ottawa Public Library. It was a neat project because I was challenged to take what would usually be considered dry and boring information and turn it into something dynamic and engaging.

OPL Economic Impact Report Screen Shot

It forced me to be creative and pushed me to explore new technologies. Plus, the library was really pleased with what we developed, and it always feels great to have someone love the work you’ve produced with your team.

Do you have any advice for young women considering a career in a STEM-based (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) field?

It’s an exciting time in the tech industry with it experiencing exhilarating growth, so I would encourage young women to look past the stereotypes and explore the many areas they can be part of. Women represent half the population, yet only hold less than a quarter in STEM-related fields. As major consumers, we need to ensure we are accurately represented in the products and applications we use on a daily basis.