Monday, June 6, 2016

Code Club Week 4: Girl Power Rising

Code Club keeps chugging along. Most of the issues that are coming up are minor - and related to my (mis)management of time. That being said, the majority of the students in the club are just coming in, doing the activities and then leaving. It's a bit like herding cats at times, but I'm not too worried. I wanted to give students an opportunity to code and LEARN some coding. I feel like I'm achieving that. I don't need to limit them by stopping. I will be trying to share a bit more.

One thing I want to talk about is girls in coding.

A common theme today is the lack of women in coding/computer based jobs and being represented in university Computer Science programs. I could cite many different articles (ok, I will: here, here and here for starters). Without going into the various reasons behind this, I feel like as a teacher I should try to do something to correct this balance. Why can't my girls gain these skills and enjoy doing it?

Will one Code Club at a school in New Zealand make a dent in the statistics? Probably not. But the message, once spread might. I've always thought that as a male teacher, I brought some value that my female colleagues could not bring (that's not to say they don't add anything that I can't, but there are far fewer males teaching young girls and having a positive non-relative male role model is quite rare for girls) - namely that I could encourage them, as a male and show them that it is a valued skill in them. I'm hoping that my job is one of keeping the flame lit, rather than re-igniting it.

Have I done anything out of the ordinary for the girls in my club? Not particularly, except I've encouraged them (which, I guess, could be more encouragement than they're getting from other sources). I was quite pleased with the number of girls I had this week. On Tuesday, I had about 3 times as many girls as boys. And honestly, I don't see any difference in their ability to code. One of the stars of my club is a girl in my class. I don't think she has a lot of experience, but she is enjoying it and has been eating up every new thing she can - she even comes both days I hold the club. That's dedication.

In my search to find information about this, I also found some resources for anyone interested in encouraging girls to code. Here are some of them:

I feel this is a very relevant area in all things STEAM. I'm not sure what direction this will lead me at my school this year and beyond, but I do have some plans. If you've got some girls who are really good at coding, there is always Lilypad Arduino as well that can be used to make wearable technology and clothing - though boys can play with those too. I've ordered some and am in the process of trying to figure out how it works (because as much as I may know about coding, it's not really that much.

If anyone has actively gone out and promoted girls in Coding or STEAM, I'd love to hear from you. I may not start implementing new ideas in the coming weeks, but every idea is a spark that is very hard to extinguish in my head.

I look forward to hearing from you!

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