Thursday, August 7, 2014

Inspiring Girls to Code [for Good]

"Now that I've started programming, I never want to stop!" --Quote from one of the 6th grade girls I mentored as a part of the Technovation Challenge

I mentioned in a previous post that I mentored a team of 6th grade girls this year as a part of the global Technovation Challenge.  It was an awesome experience, both for me as a coach/mentor, as well as for the girls who participated, because it gave them an opportunity to create and program an app that helped address an issue or problem in their community.  My team, the #WVRCodeGirls, created a homework planner app, called Plan4U.EDU, to help middle schoolers stay more organized.  They were programming with a purpose in mind.  I liked to tell them they were coding for good.

At the end of the Technovation Challenge, many teams in MN celebrated by attending an event called Appapalooza.  Appapalooza gave all of the MN Technovtation teams a chance to pitch their apps, show a demo of their app, and describe the issue it addressed.  It was so powerful to see and hear from the teams of teenage girls about the issues they feel are important, and the apps they created to help their peers and the community address and prevent these issues.

I'm definitely planning to mentor/coach another Technovation team next year.  Interested?  Check out TechnovationMN's website for more info:

Our team at Appapalooza - photo: Satori Photography

Another excellent opportunity to inspire girls in programming is KatieCoderDojo, free 2-hour coding sessions for girls in Scratch and App Inventor at St. Catherine University.  It's so inspiring to see what the girls create!  And, no previous coding experience is necessary, so it provides a great intro to coding for girls.  I really enjoy being a part of the mentor team for these events!

The next KatieCoderDojo is August 12th at St. Catherine University - interested in signing up a girl you know?  Here's the link to the Eventbrite.

So, how do we get more girls interested in coding?
Here are my thoughts...
  • give girls opportunities to try out coding
  • give them a purpose for coding
  • connect them with other female coders; mentors and peers
  • encourage them to stick with it
  • give them resources to explore and let them know of opportunities, like TechnovationMN, KatieCoderDojo, and Google's Made with Code

My colleague, +Karla Juetten recently sent me an article entitled, How not to attract women to coding: Make tech pink by Kristen V. Brown.  It makes some great points about the gender gap in computer science, and why 'making tech pink' is not a successful way to get more females interested.

So, girls, be confident, dare to dream, and let's get coding...for good!