How to Encourage Girls in Tech
At the moment approximately 33% of attendees at Dojos are girls, although this figure varies from club to club. This may seem like a low figure but it is actually above the industry average. For example, women fill 10% of Twitters technical jobs, while 17 percent of tech jobs in Google are filled by women. Jobs in technology are growing across all sectors, from agriculture and medicine, to fashion.
We want girls to have confidence in their tech skills to allow them to access these opportunities. To do this we want to increase the the number of girls in Dojos so that 50% of attendees are girls.
Why are less girls choosing tech?
In order to improve the numbers of girls in tech generally, we need to understand the multifaceted obstacles preventing girls from getting involved in coding. Societal pressures persistently undervalue and discourage girls’ abilities in the field of computer science. This is compounded by a lack of access to tools and coding education made available to girls.
Over time, as women’s work in the field is overlooked, less women choose to study computer science. If girls don’t know women involved in tech, they won’t see tech careers as an option for them to pursue.
How can you encourage girls in tech?
1) Tackle everyday stereotypes
You can encourage girls to code in your community by empowering a girl that you know. It could be your daughter/niece, grandchild or neighbour. Instead of buying overtly-gendered toys, give them technical and creative gifts that encourage them to be innovative.
If an appliance or gadget breaks in your house, bring it to your daughter to help fix, talk through the problem, encourage her suggestions and involvement.
2) Be a Role Model
Female Parents and Guardians in particular have a massive influence on their daughters, and other girls, perception of tech as something they can enjoy and be good at.
You don’t have to work in the tech industry to be a role model. You can show girls the importance and relevance of tech in other ways. Include your daughter in discussions related to tech and stay informed. Children of parents who are informed about the value of math and science are more likely to take higher-level math and science classes than those of parents who are not.
Utilise other programmes and sites that provide career information and role models of women in STEM, such as Smart Futures in Ireland.
Helping develop their resilience. Being able to overcome obstacles is important for girls pursuing occupations that have traditionally been male dominated. Help them look at stumbling blocks in a broader context and see them as opportunities for growth from a long-term perspective.
3) Bring them to or support your local CoderDojo
CoderDojo is an inclusive, open environment for girls to explore tech without judgement or fear of failure. Mentors know how to engage girls and nurture their development through creative and narrative based projects. Peer-mentoring is also encouraged at CoderDojo, children are empowered by helping others. In this way children helping each other in a Dojo gives them greater confidence and a more positive experiences of overcoming tech issues.
Parents/Guardians can encourage girls to get involved in programming by bringing them to their local Dojo. You can also tell other parents about the Dojo; letting them know it is girl friendly. Once there girls develop friendships and confidence in their tech ideas which keeps them coming back again and again.
If you have a technical or science background you can help by mentoring. Women working in technical positions can offer vital insight and inspiration to girls at Dojo’s by talking about what their job entails and the skills they use.
“I can’t say enough about the importance of mentorship and encouraging girls that this career field is possible for them”
-Kimberly Bryant, founder and executive director of Black Girls Code.
You might prefer not to be directly involved in a Dojo, but still want to help. You can support CoderDojo by donating or through pro-bono support to help us enable more children to learn programming skills for free.
Additionally, you can ask friends and family in technical fields if they’d be willing to volunteer their time if you are not in such a position. Your own workplace may want to help inspire more girls in technical fields; asking if CoderDojo could be part of their CSR strategy is another way you can support.
Share your insight!
CoderDojo are currently in the process of making our CoderDojo Girls: Empowering the future guide encouraging girls to engage with tech through their local Dojo. If you have any insight you would like to share with us, please let us know here.