It’s hard to imagine a time before computers—in that time, TP wouldn’t exist. But the invention of computers did not only usher in advances in hardware; it made code relevant. By now, you’ve probably heard of code. In basic terms, it’s the technical writing that allows devices like phones and computers to run. From the outside, code can seem like a lot of mumbo-jumbo, but just like learning any language, learning to code allows one to actually understand what’s going on between all of those brackets, indentations, and colons. Unfortunately, the role of computer scientist (just like many other careers) has long been associated with men. However, girls can and should be coders, too—and people are beginning to realize. There are tons of great new initiatives pushing women to get into computer science, because code is indeed the future and everyone should be a part of it.
Made With Code
If you’ve ever been on the internet, you may have heard of a little company called Google. Recently, Google came under fire for having a devastatingly low percentage of women employed—that is to say, only 17% of the entire company’s engineers are women. And while that number is saddening, it’s far from unusual: Twitter and other companies have posted similar, if not worse, demographic reports.
Google is trying to change things, however. It recently released Made With Code, a beautiful new site designed to get girls interested in coding at any age. One of their coolest offerings is the chance to design 3D printed bracelets you create using a language called Blocky. These bracelets can be printed and shipped to you for free, and have even been sported by the likes of Mindy Kaling. Made With Code offers tons of other cool things on their website, like events, stories from coders, and resources to get girls coding. It’s truly refreshing to see such a thought-out and effective initiative coming from a tech giant like Google. Websites like Made With Code are getting us one step closer to closing that gender gap.
Girls Who Code
Whereas Made With Code is a subset of a large corporation, Girls Who Code is an organization whose sole mission is to promote tech to females. One figure displayed prominently on GWC’s home page says: “Women represent 12% of all computer science graduates. In 1984, they represented 37% of all computer science graduates.” In light of this statistic, Girls Who Code offers resources like a summer immersion program, which is a seven week intensive class designed to get teenage girls excited about computer science. After completing the program, 100% of students said that they were more likely to major in computer science. A course like this breaks down societally-imposed gender barriers and allows girls to explore a field that may otherwise seem inaccessible.
Other companies are offering similar initiatives geared toward young people. Ever heard of Twitter? Thought so. Twitter’s cofounder, Jack Dorsey, is CEO of a mobile payment company called Square, which offers a comparable program. Code Camp, as they like to call it, runs for high school girls in the Bay Area over a period of eight months. It includes lectures, labs, hack weeks, and a final project, which will all help prepare students for the AP Computer Science exam. Another program, their college code camp, is a four-day immersion experience that gives attendees a taste of life in Silicon Valley. Like Google, Square is trying to ensure that the next generation will be less prone to the gender gaps of today.
Besides its summer program, Girls Who Code offers resources that make it easy for anyone to start a local GWC club. By partnering with a Girls Who Code certified instructor and a location that is willing to host meetings, groups of fifteen or more young women are able to start their very own club. This experience not only provides computer science experience—it also gives girls a chance to become leaders and choose the direction of their education, and these skills are just as valuable as the coding knowledge itself.
If a camp isn’t doable for you, have no fear! There are plenty of ways to start coding from the comfort of you own home. My favorite resource is Codecademy, which offers interactive courses in HTML/CSS, Python, Ruby, and more. (If you know what none of those mean, don’t worry! Though jargon like this can make computer science seem inaccessible, learning terminology is a small hurdle and ultimately not the primary goal of coding.) Codecademy is free and incorporates practical projects, like building a version of the Airbnb website. Though the site isn’t female-specific, it’s a thorough and trusted resource. There are also, of course, tons of books available on the subject. When it comes to learning code, the information is plentiful—all you need is the motivation.
Ultimately, everyone will benefit from this push to get women into computer science. Who knows how many great minds technology has missed out on because of the gender gap? With great programs like Made With Code, Girls Who Code, and Codecademy, we will hopefully see demographics even out in the future. To all women out there: never forget that you really can work in any field, no matter what traditional gender roles may say. Getting involved in computer science is a great way to ensure job stability in the future, immerse yourself in a fascinating subject, and be a part of an incredible group of women building the future.