Girls Can Code

From a young age, girls are typically not encouraged to explore computer sciences or pursue interests in related fields. The assumption that women don’t belong in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or math is one that is deeply rooted in antiquated gender roles. The result is an overwhelmingly homogeneous workforce, consisting of mainly men. Going into STEM fields as a woman isn’t easy. In addition to the strenuous education that is required, participation of women in these fields is low.

Early in their education, girls in grades K through 12 have the same enrollment percentages in math and science classes, but according to National Girls Collaborative Project, an organization built to encourage girls to enter STEM-related fields, when it comes to engineering classes, there is a significant gender gap. Male students are six times more likely to take engineering than girls. In higher education, women earn half of all science and engineering bachelor’s degrees, but their participation in the science and engineering fields differs greatly. Women earn over half of the degrees awarded in biology fields, but that number drops significantly in fields like computer science, physics, and engineering.

Proponents of more girls entering into STEM fields argue that girls are just as capable as their male counterparts to succeed in the subjects of math and science. With the right tools, anyone can code. Anyone can develop software that has the potential to change our world. Women deserve the opportunity to even the playing field, to be given equal opportunities, and to be met with open minds. The nonprofit organization, Girl Develop It, co-founded by Vanessa Hurst and Alanna Gombert with chapters in 54 cities offers classes and support to women interested in coding and related careers. The Girl Develop It Detroit chapter hosts monthly “Code and Coffee” and “Code and Tea” events in Detroit. The members of Girls Develop It include not only women, but also men who support gender equality in technology fields.

Last month, HFC hosted a free screening of the movie, CodeGirl, a documentary about the Technovation Challenge, an international competition for high school aged girls to develop apps that can better their communities. Directed by Lesley Chilcott, who produced the Academy Award-winning An Inconvenient Truth, the film follows girls from rural Moldova to urban Brazil to suburban Massachusetts involved in the competition. By the end of the film, the message that girls can code is undeniable.

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