By Nora Lowe
The Girls Who Code Club Battles Stigma Against Females in Computer Science
42%. That is the portion of the day that the average American spends looking at a screen, according to the New York Post. Despite concern about the potential harms of such a surplus of screen-time, computer science is one of the fastest growing industries.
Coding is the language that is responsible for operating all of the computer programs that we use every day, whether that’s email, google classroom or social media. All of these complex programs are created using strings of code, the sole language of communication between humans and our electronics.
A love of coding, and an awareness about the growing significance of coding in society, prompted sophomores Sofia Cobos and Alana Foreman to start a Girls Who Code Club, with physics teacher Ms. Tompkins as its adviser. Alana describes that they started the club because “girls are historically being left behind in computer science. While girls’ participation in computer science ebbs over time, the biggest drop off happens between the ages of 13-17,” which is part of the reason why promoting computer science in high school is so important. She also points out that “fewer than 1 in 5 computer science graduates are women. We want to close the gender gap in technology and change the image of what a programmer looks like and does.”
Sophomore America Salazar said, “I joined because there needs to be more girls in science fields.” Encouraging females to code supports both the computer science industry and gender equality, as computer science is currently a male-dominated field. U.S. News reports that “women will hold only 20 percent of computing jobs by 2025.”
America elaborates that she “always had an interest in science. Coding is important because technology is everywhere in daily lives, so it would be helpful to learn to code for a job.” Preparing women for a career in computer science is definitely an aim of the group, but America explains that it is still important to get involved in coding even if that is not the career one wants to achieve, as it is a skill involved in many other fields. Alana concurs, noting that “people that know how to code are in high demand.”
The focus of the club is to help members learn “the basics of multiple coding languages such as Java, Python, and HTML.” Sofia adds that “Meetings are as interactive as possible. We always try to get people to come up and try to code something funny even on websites as simple as scratch.” She underlines that only when people have fun in the process, is it possible to “form a positive connection with coding”. Their “end-of-the-year project” is focused on matching students with compatible computer science classes at BHHS. The club’s future plans include bringing in guest speakers.
One of the key aims of the club is to deconstruct the stigma women face in the coding industry. A core goal is to prevent women from being “left out from high-paying technology jobs in the future,” as Alana summarizes.