This year, the theme of International Women’s Day is #ChoosetoChallenge, a call for all of us to think about the ways we can challenge the world, make it more alert, and bring real change to our lives. Could the change be simply triggered by girls learning how to code?
Tech surrounds us. The demand for programmers and software engineers is growing at a rapid rate and it has become essential that we equip children with coding skills. At school, at home, or through extracurricular courses, coding will allow them to become the future leaders of innovation.
However, we all know that there aren’t a lot of women in STEM. This makes it even more important to show young girls that learning to code is not only beneficial, but also fun. And while the bigger goal is to change the state of affairs for women in tech, what we can start with is creating a positive environment for future women and girls. It’s not just about closing the gender gap. It’s about education, empowerment, and evolution.
1- Coding is the language of the future
Eons ago, those who could read and write occupied the most powerful positions. Today, coding is the new literacy. People with tech skills have more options to succeed because they learn to develop various abilities, like problem-solving, logic, communication skills, multitasking, and design skills. They will be able to shape the future.
2- STEM needs more girls
The stats say it all! According to research conducted by Accenture and Girls Who Code, the number of women in STEM has decreased since the 90s, and if we do not reverse this trend, the number of female computer scientists will fall from 24% to 22% by 2025.
Girls, even those who like math, become discouraged from pursuing education and careers in tech. A lack of female role models in STEM could be why. When girls don’t see women succeeding in a field, they’re more likely to choose another career path.
The best way to get them interested in coding is to show them that tech is not a male dominated field. Talk to your daughters, nieces, granddaughters, and sisters about Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, YouTube’s Susan Wojcicki or IBM’s Ginni Rometty! Girls who are encouraged to pursue STEM now will later be role models for the next generation.
3- Get them started early!
At school or in extracurricular courses, coding should be presented as a creative fun tool that allows children to learn new things and explore cool ideas. It can be intimidating at times, and a simple error can cause frustration. Instead of giving up when something doesn’t work, children learn to calmly identify the bugs and troubleshoot. By learning to code from an early age, girls develop a better grasp for tech which helps them find better solutions, manage failure, and grow.
4- Learning to code changes the status quo
Coding gives girls an equal shot. It increases their odds of having well-paid jobs that could potentially reduce the pay gap.
The absence of female coders is also detrimental to innovation in general. Because women make the majority of buying decisions and there are apps and products that only women use, female product designers are likely to bring relevant and needed perspectives that otherwise might be missing.
Our world undoubtedly relies on tech. The demand for programmers will only grow. Teaching the basics of coding to children, especially girls, should no longer be just an experiment. We should equip them with the best tools possible so that they can learn today how to create their tomorrow.
Will you help forge a gender equal world through tech?
Celebrate tech women’s achievement! Raise awareness against the industry’s bias. Take action for equality by giving girls access to tech education. Head over here to donate towards the tech education of young girls in Lebanon.