For the second year in a row, in a couple of weeks I'll be volunteering at Mountain Creek High School with one of their girls can code days. As a company we're huge advocates for girls being introduced to ICT (Information Communications Technology) as a subject, and encouraging them into this very exciting industry and career. The Creative Collective is headed by two girls in tech - myself and my business partner Katrina Lees, so we love doing what we can to help!
Coding and the ICT industry in general can be especially intimidating for women to enter into, and, in my experience, the women themselves are often their own worst enemies! A great book to read if you’d like to explore why women tend to ‘hold back’ when they should indeed ‘lean in’ was published by Sheryl Sandberg, who served as the chief operating officer of Facebook at the time she published a book called Lean In. It’s a great read, and I encourage you to check it out.
Despite the inspiration and support the book has given women the world over to help them achieve their goals whatever their profession, the ICT industry still continues to be dominated by men, which is a shame when coding is deeply creative and essentially about problem solving, and women would be excellent at it if they only gave themselves the chance.
Working in ICT can be a highly paid and flexible career that in some cases you can do from home, around the kids. To be blunt, I don’t know why more women don’t stop stuffing around with businesses that they’re really not making a lot of money from, and which require a lot of time and effort, when they could learn some new skills in coding and really open up their options and pay rates.
Thankfully, there are a range of organisations located around the world that are helping women who might not otherwise think that jobs in technology are for them and that are giving them the know-how and desire to compete for high-tech jobs, like the initiative at Mountain Creek High School. If you would like to introduce your girl to tech, or get a program happening at your school, here are a range of initiatives you could check out (all of which are listed in my book www.nokidding.com.au):
1. Girls Develop It
GirlsDevelopIt is an international organisation certified by the Board of Education that exists to provide affordable and accessible programs to women who want to learn software development through mentorship and hands-on instructions. To create a network of empowered women who feel confident in their abilities to code and build beautiful web and mobile applications. By teaching women around the world from diverse backgrounds to learn software development, we can help women improve their careers and confidence in their everyday lives.
MORE INFO: http://www.girldevelopit.com
2. Girls Who Code
Girls Who Code, an organisation backed by companies like GE, Google and Twitter, brings instruction in mobile design, web development, and robotics – along with mentorship from an impressive roster of female entrepreneurs and developers – to promising girls between 13 and 17 years old. The 8-week summer program currently serviced underserved high schools around New York City but could expand.
MORE INFO: http://www.girlswhocode.com/
3. Girls Learning Code
This Toronto-based program for girls between 9 and 13 was founded by the women behind Ladies Learning Code and is hosted by the Mozilla Foundation. Girls Learning Code is a summer camp – but it’s also a series of workshops and events where girls learn everything from Gimp to HTML.
MORE INFO: http://learninglabs.org/members/girls-learning-code/
In 2007, Femgineer began as a blog on engineering and entrepreneurship by Poornima Vijayashanker, founding engineer at Mint.com. Today, Femgineer is an education start-up, where Poornima provides tech professionals and engineers with skills to better themselves in product development, communication and team-leading. Femgineer offers a range of speaking engagements, workshops and courses.
MORE INFO: http://femgineer.com/
I had the pleasure of meeting Shaherose Charania, the CEO and co-founder of women2.com whilst on my Silicon Valley tour in May 2013. Women 2.0 is keen on inspiring the next generation of female technology leaders; and to support this it creates content and has a community and events for aspiring and current women innovators in technology, thus strengthening technology businesses by connecting, inspiring and educating the next generation of technology leaders.
MORE INFO: http://www.women2.com
BlackGirlsCode is devoted to showing the world that black girls can code, and do so much more. By reaching out to the community through workshops and after school programs, BlackGirlsCode introduces computer-coding lessons to young girls from underrepresented communities in programming languages, such as Scratch or Ruby on Rails.
MORE INFO: http://www.blackgirlswhocode.com
7. Rails Girls
Rails Girls was born in Finland and is nowadays a truly global, non-profit community which runs regular events in locations around the world for women to understand technology and to build their ideas. They do this by providing a great experience on building things and by making technology more approachable. Their programs help females learn sketching, prototyping and basic programming, and it helps them get introduced to the world of technology.
MORE INFO: http://www.railsgirls.com/
8. Girls Teaching Girls To Code
Girls Teaching Girls to Code is a program where Stanford women in computer science teach Bay Area high-school girls to code. Students learn programming basics, build exciting projects and develop strong relationships with mentors in the field.
MORE INFO: http://www.girlsteachinggirlstocode.org/
Founded by Marita Cheng, the for 2012, Robogals is a student-run organisation that aims to increase female participation in engineering, science and technology through fun and educational initiatives aimed at girls in primary and secondary school. Their core activity is having university student volunteers visit schools to conduct robotics workshops using LEGO Mindstorms robots. Founded in Melbourne in 2008, today Robogals has 17 chapters across Australia, the UK, the US and Japan.
10. Code First
MORE INFO: http://www.codefirstgirls.org.uk
Thinkersmith’s mission is to introduce all ages, races and genders to the creative side of computer science and computational thinking. They are also specifically pushing to increase equity in the computer sciences as we work to attract and retain girls, women and other non-traditional computer science students.
Apart from all of the networking groups listed above, we also recommend you check out meetup.com and eventbrite.com for other events in your area.
MORE INFO: http://www.thinkersmith.org
12. Women Techmakers
Women Techmakers aims to raise awareness of innovative women leaders in technology and inspire others to join the field. It hopes to enable passionate, creative women to lead the technology industry by showcasing the work of women leaders in the tech industry; curates and creates a supportive community in which women can connect around the world, and provide women with opportunities to develop technical skillsets, aid in career development and personal growth.
MORE INFO: https://developers.google.com/women-techmakers/
13. Hello Ruby
Hello Ruby is an illustrated book designed to appeal to girls aged 4–7 years, which hopes to get them inspired by the web and programming. The book was created by Linda Liukas, who for the past three years has been teaching programming and encouraging more young women into the field through the Rails Girls non-profit.
MORE INFO: http://www.helloruby.com
14. The Tech Girls Movement
The Tech Girls Movement emerged out of Australia and is led by Dr Jenine Beekhuyzen. The Tech Girls Movement brings together Jenine’s research knowledge and experience with intervention programs for girls in computing and women in the information technology industry over the past decade. The website offers two books for sale: Tech Girls Are Super Heroes and Tech Girls are Chic!
MORE INFO: http://www.techgirlsmovement.org
It was Never a Dress!
Though it's not strictly a girls in tech initiative, but rather an invitation to shift perceptions and assumptions about women and the audacious, sensitive, and powerful gestures they make every single day in science, technology, arts, mathematics, politics, houses of worship, on the streets, and in our homes, last week Axosoft launched a very cool campaign called: It was NEVER a dress!
#itwasneveradress is an invitation to shift perceptions and assumptions about women and the audacious, sensitive, and powerful gestures they make every single day. In science, technology, arts, mathematics, politics, houses of worship, on the streets, and in our homes, insightful women are often uninvited, overlooked, or just plain dismissed. Through storytelling, community building, innovation and creative disruptions, It Was Never a Dress will foster necessary conversations, vital voices, and images from around the world that honour ALL women. When we see women differently... we see the world differently!
In the coming weeks, they will be inviting submissions for sharing stories, images and ideas about perceptions and realities. Sign up here to be part of the conversation - http://itwasneveradress.com/.
I'm always collecting articles on women in technology which I pin to the Pinterest board below. If you'd like to be invited to also pin to this board, drop me a line!
Follow The Creative Collective's board Women and technology on Pinterest.