National Girls Learning Code Day: Empowering a Geekier Future

by | Nov 2, 2015 | Commentary, Design, Digital Strategy, Marketing

Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates, Dennis Ritchie, Tim Berners-Lee , Ada Lovelace  and Grace Hopper.

Do you recognize any of these names?

Surely you recognize the first computer programmer alongside some other heavy hitters, including  creators of profound companies such as Apple and Microsoft as well as computer innovations such as Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), C programming language, and COBOL.

Maybe what you didn’t notice is that of all the technology innovators and inventors listed here, only two of them are female and further than that you are probably Googling who they are right now.

It’s okay, I can wait…

Surprised that you didn’t know that Ada Lovelace pioneered computer programming back in 1843? Well, it’s true. Too bad the history books overlooked her achievement and others just like her when retelling their stories.

There’s a massive gender gap in the technology industry and we need to do more than talk about it.

If you look at any pop culture references alluding to any computer advancement, you’ll get the same stereotypical image – a young, social outcast male sitting in his work space, feverishly polishing his computer engineering or development masterpiece. And this imagery, despite only recently being deemed cool, begs the question… Where the girls at? And why are they not being recognized for their achievements or being encouraged to pursue their future in technology?

November 7th is National Girls Learning Code Day (#glccodeday)- an exciting initiative put on by the Ladies Learning Code organization. There are events happening in cities across Canada and online – find a workshop here . (Girls must be 8-13 years old and accompanied by a parent or guardian for the local events.)

There’s an appalling shortage of women pursuing engineering – particularly software engineering.  For instance, less than 12% of computer science degrees earned in 2010-11 were awarded to women. Encouraging the girls of today to consider careers in technology is a critical first step in addressing this inequality.  For the women who do choose a tech career, the sky’s the limit. There’s plenty of opportunity to become a power player, at big companies and hot startups alike.

I am truly passionate about  encouraging the next generation of young women in this country to learn the technical skills than can empower their futures in the information economy  – and I’m always looking for opportunities to engage with my daughter in expanding her digital literacy (and having some fun doing it).

There’s not a Girls Learning Code Day event scheduled in our immediate area – so Abby & I have decided to mark the event by dedicating our Saturday to working on a fun coding project together.

Our platform of choice for teaching and playing with code is the brilliant S.C.R.A.T.C.H.  platform and community developed by Mitch Resnick and his team at MIT.

Don’t be intimidated – this was designed to be used by even the severely technically challenged.  It uses a wonderfully intuitive visual puzzle-piece interface for adding all elements of code; and can get you up and running building all sorts of interactive little apps in literally minutes.

SCRATCH works in any Java enabled web browser  (sorry, no tablet version) Find out more and get started visit https://scratch.mit.edu .

There are all kinds of great resources there for parents and teachers and kids alike.

Help support the cause and empower the next generation of women making big waves in the STEM fields by getting involved with the Ladies Learning Code organization.

Not only am I a huge supporter of the cause, but working with my daughter on our SCRATCH project is a fun way to spend time together while giving her skills she can use in her future.

Girls Learning Code Day – empowering a geekier future for girls.

About the Author

David Goodman David is a Senior Project Manager at Marshall-Fenn. He  has spent over 15 years working as a digital professional and has a vast knowledge of all facets of digital and creative development. Dave has worked with many clients, including Bausch and Lomb, Campbell’s, Canon, High Liner, Kraft, Magna, Maple Leaf, McCain, Nestle and P&G.