On MLK Jr. Day this year, 180 girls in Seattle attended an event focused on encouraging interest in STEM fields. After watching Hidden Figures, the untold story of three minority women working for NASA, students heard from a panel of women in STEM. The title of the movie is appropriate as many girls are just now learning that “…women can do anything–and we already have.” The hidden nature of the impact women have had in STEM, including the work of Ada Lovelace and Rosalind Franklin, has led to a gender gap in women in STEM fields. Here at Generation Code we believe in the power of coding instruction to open up the world of STEM to girls, while inspiring them to be digital leaders in their communities.
But how does coding curriculum help close the gender gap?
Here are 3 ways:
It Boosts Confidence
Although all children struggle with low self-esteem, girls are more likely than boys to doubt themselves and their abilities - especially in science and math.
Learning code early, especially in a non-graded, after-school environment, gives students the freedom to make mistakes. Learning something new and seeing concrete accomplishments—like building a game from scratch in Scratch—boosts confidence. Coding demonstrates to students know the creative, amazing things they can accomplish with the right support and in the right environment.
It Reduces Bias
A Harvard Business Review study found that hidden and explicit biases hinder women from careers in STEM more than any other factor. Women in STEM consistently have their experience discounted and questioned; they “have to prove themselves over and over again.” Mixed-gendered coding classrooms with instructors that deliberately avoid gender bias allow students to work together to build knowledge and problem solve.
It's Essential for 21st Century Success
As we’ve mentioned before, coding helps build creative problem-solving, computational thinking, and critical-thinking skills. As our marketplace becomes more global, these skills will be critical for career success – regardless of one’s gender. Whether or not students pursue coding as a career, the frameworks associated with coding set the emerging workforce up for success in most fields.
Want to join us in the movement?
Sign your daughter, niece, or granddaughter up for classes at Generation Code or other organizations who share our mission! Here are a few other places we think are great:
Investing in research, programs, and educational opportunities to build a STEM pipeline for girls and women
NGCP (National Girls Collaborative Project)
Bringing together organizations “committed to informing and encouraging girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)”
Girls Who Code
A non-profit determined to close the gender gap in technology