The lack of women and girls in computer science is a well-known issue. Now it’s time for us to finally do something about it.
So how can we put an end to this extreme female under-representation and empower our daughters into computer science?
Computer coding is the new literacy in our thriving digital world but the number of girls and young women learning the language has hit an all-time low.
Reshma Saujani In her book In Brave, Not Perfect, “Show one young girl how to code, she’ll educate four.” The replication impact is so amazing.
Coding is the language of things to come, and each young girl ought to learn it. As I’ve gained from watching young girls develop and learn in our homerooms, coding is fun, synergistic and innovative.
To raise young girls who are bold yet not great, recall that courage resembles a muscle and is something that you can keep on working after some time. For moms of little girls, it’s imperative to urge girls to use their hands, to get filthy, to face challenges and to use innovation.
On the off chance that they’re in vaulting class and are battling, keep them in the class and let them experience what it resembles to simply be alright. “Some portion of achievement is realizing what it resembles to not be the best and to battle a tad,” she said.
Try not to fear disappointment. That is not a simple exercise for young people – particularly high school young girls – to learn. Our general public sends us a ton of messages that suggest we should be embarrassed when we miss the mark. Be that as it may, I figure we ought to toss each other disappointment parties! What’s more, Empowering young girls to code for a splendid and promising future
On the off chance that you show a young girl to code, she will change the world. Girls in, the tech industry is thinking pink. But that isn’t enough.
‘Fail hard, fail fast, fail often. It’s the key to success.” This one I gained from experience she added.
Most young girls are instructed to keep away from disappointment and hazard. To grin beautiful, avoid any and all risks, get all A’s. Young men, then again, are instructed to play harsh, swing high, slither to the highest point of the playground equipment and afterward hop-off head first.
When they’re grown-ups and whether they’re arranging a raise or in any event, asking somebody out on the town, men are habituated to face a great many dangers. They’re remunerated for it. It’s frequently said in Silicon Valley that nobody even pays attention to you except if you’ve had two bombed new companies. In other words, we’re raising our young girls to be great and we’re raising our young men to be daring.
What’s happening? At the fifth grade level, young girls routinely outflank young men in each subject, including math and science. In this way, it is anything but an issue of capacity. The thing that matters is how young men and young girls approach a test. It doesn’t simply end in fifth grade.
The issue starts from the get-go in adolescence. “Go through five minutes on any play area, and you’ll see precisely what I’m discussing,” Saujani said. “We advise our young men to move to the highest point of the playground equipment and simply hop headfast.” The young girls hear an alternate story: “Be cautious honey. Try not to swing excessively high. Is your dress messy? Let me tidy you up. Did you remove that toy from her? Give it back.”
“We are continually spoiling and securing our young girls, truly wrapping them up with bubble wrap. Furthermore, the more established they get, they get dependent on flawlessness,” Saujani said. “They fire surrendering before they even attempt. Everything in their life, regardless of whether it’s their own life or their expert life, is fundamentally deteriorated by compulsiveness.”
Young men, then again, are raised to be valiant, to face challenges, and to fall flat, said Saujani. Thus, they lift their hand for advancements they’re not equipped for, dispatch new businesses with surrender thus significantly more. At the point when they get terminated, they regularly have the mindset that it’s the organization’s misfortune, while girls consider it to be a gut punch. Indeed, contemplates show that girls won’t go after positions in the event that they don’t mark off each capability that is recorded.
13 Ways You Can Empower Girls to Learn Coding
Understand the Specific barriers we need to overcome
Before anything, you need to understand the systemic barriers preventing girls from getting into coding. Both a culture that persistently ignores and discourages girls’ abilities in computer science and the lack of access to tools and education, play influential roles.
“If you enter a classroom and you see 18 boys and two girls, you automatically think, ‘I’m in the wrong place and I’m not welcome,'” Partovi says. “And that makes it harder.”
When girls see a classroom filled mainly with boys, they feel alienated. This may turn them off from pursuing STEM.
Begin with small first steps in your own life
Reshma Saujani recommends tackling everyday stereotypes — for example, if an appliance or gadget breaks in your house, bring it to your daughter to help fix, instead of your son.
“I really feel like everybody should think about a young girl in their lives and inspire her to learn how to code,” she says. “Talk to her about it. Coding to me is the ultimate 21st-century skill set that every young girl has to learn.”
“We really need to watch … our own unconscious bias on how we treat boys and girls in terms of their abilities to build and create. And we should change that,” she says.
Understand where girls need to begin, too.
In addition to the first steps to help girls get into coding, first, you should have a basic understanding of the skills they need.
Partovi says the actual coding platform and language makes a difference. He suggests starting with more simplistic, drag-and-drop methods of coding, which allow students to build something exciting more quickly, leading to satisfaction instead of frustration.
Girls Who Code and Black Girls Code both start with the programming language Scratch. But both Saujani and Bryant agree that it’s more about computational thinking than anything else.
It’s really about how you attack a problem, rather than ‘learn Scratch and then Java and then HTML and then Ruby,’ because I think programming languages are going to change all the time,” Saujani says. “To me, it’s the fundamental blocks of how you think and approach the problem-solving ... You’re not going to get it right on the first time, or the second time, or the fifth time. Getting yourself comfortable with failure is really very important.”
Bryant says computational thinking can be taught even without learning a specific programming language.
“I really love programs that have that type of focus — taking computer science out of the process, so to speak, and really teaching kids the fundamentals of how you solve a problem,” she says. “The code is just the tool that facilitates solving it in a particular way.”
Encourage them to think smart
Encouragement from parents/teachers and peers is the number one contributor to a girl’s decision to pursue computer science, whether or not that parent has technical expertise herself.
Define and prioritize computer science for them: CS is not just about algorithmic problem-solving — it will increase critical thinking across their whole curriculum and personal lives.
Specifically, it will teach them how to manage, process, visualize and interpret data, to model and simulate real-world problems, to create and design brand new graphics and products (with code), to program and design new games, websites, software and robotics (with code), to understand security systems and to consider the wider ethical and social impact of technology.
But what exactly is Code? There are many different computer coding languages but most coders expertise in just one or two depending on what they want to create. Google’s initiative to encourage girls into coding, Made with Code, describes it this way:
“Simply put, code is a tool that lets you write your story with technology. If you can code, you can communicate your ideas with a computer or a program so they can be brought to life in bigger, brighter, and more creative ways.”
Find organizations putting in the work already
You don’t need to start from scratch. There are a number of best organizations getting girls to code through innovative and successful programs and just as many ways to support them.
Whether you are a parent or an educator, learn how you can become involved with a local organization that will make a huge difference.
Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code, and Code.org, there’s Girls Learning Code, Iridescent (which runs the Technovation Challenge), and the 1,000 Girls 1,000 Futures initiative as part of the Global STEM Alliance, just to name a few.
You can find more U.S.-based programs here, as well as a wide range of international programs and initiatives here.
Be a role model
Use your skills to inspire girls. if you are a woman in STEM, think about how your life story can help.
Take time to figure out where your skills and experience could help the most. For example, if you’re a woman working in a STEM field, think of ways you might be able to inspire girls with your own story, showing firsthand that it can be done.
“It’s very important for girls to see role models like myself that are in technical fields,” Bryant says. “Looking for ways to come in as speakers or do a career day, or just find a way to connect with students or invite students to their workplaces to shadow them for the day … is critically important.”
Encourage your local school to teach girls how to code
Encourage local schools to incorporate coding into the curriculum: you can do this by contacting local politicians or putting pressure on school administrations.
One of the most important ways to advocate for girls is to get schools to actually offer courses on the subject. On the public advocacy side, you can contact your local politicians and legislators to lobby on behalf of making coding a priority in public school education. As a parent or guardian, you can put pressure on school administrations to include more computer science courses in curricula for various age levels.
And if you’re a teacher, you can effect change within the school system itself.
we need our after-school programs to make sure we don’t lose any time. Every day that goes by that we’re not educating our children, it feels like we’re losing out.”
Lead a coding club for girls.
Since after-school programs remain important, look into starting your own program in your community, like a Girls Who Code Club.
The organization’s website provides materials through an open-source, scalable model that lets anyone start a coding club.
Code.org also offers its Hour of Code initiative, which allows educators, companies, public officials, and volunteers to host a one-hour event to learn coding basics. According to Partovi, 50 million female students have participated so far.
“The way to break the stereotype is not just by showing girls can code, it’s getting started and doing it,” he says. “We find the time and again that for the girl who thinks coding is scary, after 30 minutes of doing it and actually making something, she immediately has a change of heart in terms of her interest level.”
Reach out to girls in underrepresented communities
It’s crucial to acknowledge from the start that getting girls into coding isn’t just an issue of gender — it also involves race, sexuality, class, and other factors of identity. For example, STEM fields have historically excluded women of color especially, and coding programs and courses are often first available to wealthier communities and schools.
You should always be thinking of this as an intersectional issue, and make a point to reach out to girls in underrepresented communities.
“The same tactics and techniques a person or organization may use to attract women into the field may not necessarily translate if we’re looking into attracting African-American girls or Latinas into the field,” Bryant says. “Understanding the differences in these communities and how to best reach and support them is a really important first step in learning how to be more inclusive.”
Creating more exposure and access remains the same across regions and communities, she adds, but it’s the techniques and tools we use that will vary.
Saujani says she very much sees this as an economic issue, both in the U.S. and globally.
I’ve never seen a greater way to close the poverty gap than to teach girls to code. We have girls [in our programs] who will be in homeless shelters sitting next to girls who go to the best private schools in New York City … They’re actually starting from the same place, and by the end of seven weeks, you’re both profitable to go get a job or internship at Facebook,” she says.
Saujani has seen it first hand, from city to city — girls’ families had a chance to move up to the middle class, and it’s through coding education.
Creator or consumer?
We need our girls to really get how exciting and important this is for their future. Technology increasingly permeates every aspect of society and is a powerful agent of change. Whether or not they pursue tech careers, we must make our daughters understand that a solid computer science education is a must-have – it will help them realize their dreams and goals in whatever industry they choose, from art to medicine, and help put them in control of their lives as innovators and creators, not just consumers.
Build Mindset to Never Quit
The biggest drop-off in CS education for girls is between the ages of 13 and 16 when participation plummets from 66 percent to 32 percent.
One of the problems in the developed countries is that most elementary and public schools do not teach computer science to begin with, and three out of four of those that do only teach how to use technology, rather than how to create it. And only a few countries allow students to count computer science courses toward high school graduation.
You can use some of the tools from Code.org to research and campaign for better CS education where you are.
More resources for educators and businesses can be found at the National Center for Women & Information Technology
Extracurricular Outside Of School
Girls tend to have less exposure to computing and less self-identification with it (outside of school) than boys. Providing our daughters with supported opportunities to practice general computer skills from a young age is an important part of igniting their passion and confidence in the technology.
Leading the way in extra-curricular computer science is the not-for-profit Girls Who Code (GWC). Founded in 2011, GWC has one mission — to close the technology gender gap. Its goal is to expose a million young women to computer-science education and training by the end of 2020 by partnering with US universities, elementary and secondary schools, and large corporations to sponsor after-school clubs and summer immersion programs for girls in grades 6 to 12.
Founder, Reshma Saujani, says: “By actually embedding classrooms in today’s leading companies that create products girls use every day, we show them, ‘Look, you can do this. You can code this. This is a world that is open to you, and once you learn this skill set, the possibilities are endless.’“
Challenge Her to Create Something New Everyday
Ask your daughter to imagine that half the world is designing half the video games, half the apps, half the websites, robotics, software programs, etc. How different might that world look? What would THEY design?
Then challenge her to create something with her first piece of code. These websites are some of the best for parents, children, and young people to get started with: Code.org, Scratch, and Mozilla.
The world is missing out on the technological innovations, solutions, and creations of up to 50 percent of the population. Increasing the number of girls studying computer science is as crucial to the future of gender equality as encouraging them to run for political office. As the Google slogan says, let’s “Do the Right Thing.”
What do You think of these ways to empower Girls to Code. Did I miss anything do let me know in the comments?