I get asked on a semi-regular basis during my job at Coder Academy why we focus on Girls in STEAM programs. Why not programs for everyone? What about boys? The answer is that we do try to provide programs for everyone. As a mother of both girls and boys I am equally keen to see them all adept enough to thrive in the tech saturated world they are going to inhabit.
However, we do run a number of programs just for girls.
Our CANchangeratio program in partnership with CBA teaches girls in Years 8-10 how to design and develop their own web applications using Ruby on Rails
We are partnering with City of Sydney to run a Girls, Get Gaming workshop on the 18th March
We are also partnering with Diversity Careers, Accenture and others to run Super Hero Daughter Day on March 11 in Sydney
All these events are designed to inspire and encourage girls to consider STEAM pathways. We are doing this because as this article from Foundation for Young Australians points out:
75% of future jobs will involve some degree of STEM skill.
Women make up 24% of the workforce in ICT but 52% of the overall population.
Quite frankly if 75% of jobs are going to involve STEM skills then ALL children regardless of gender, race, income etc should be encouraged to study STEM subjects. However, girls are already at a disadvantage in this space. Consequently they require some additional attention/resources to drive curiosity, competence and confidence.
The next issue is that even those women who graduate with STEM skills are leaving the industry within 15 years, getting paid less than their male counterparts and are subject to more harassment. Consequently getting more girls into STEM subjects is only half the battle!
Speaking anecdotally I have watched my 10 year old daughter go through several school holiday programs run by Coder Academy in the last 3 months. Her confidence and perception of herself as someone able to use computational thinking to solve problems and create things using technology has grown exponentially. Sadly these are skills she is not really being exposed to in school. I am hoping the introduction of the Australian Digital Curriculum will make a difference, but she is already in Year 5. By the time it is adopted she could have been learning how to code during school hours for years! Thus it has been left up to me to ensure she has the skills and self belief to be more than just a passive consumer of technology. I am on the lookout for high schools that really encourage STEAM skills for girls and don't cost an absolute fortune. So far I am not faced with a wide range of choices!
So this is one of the many reasons I have joined Coder Academy: I want to present a great role model for my own kids, provide access to programs they don't get in schools and play a key role in the disruption of education that ensures ALL kids get access to programs like ours!
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