CoderDojo Girls Initiative: What we’ve achieved so far
In March we launched the CoderDojo Girls Initiative, which aims to increase the number of girls attending a CoderDojo from 29% to at least 40% over the next three years. Six months on we wanted to highlight what we’ve done so far and what’s next for CoderDojo Girls. In particular we want to highlight that from today anyone will be also able to download and print our ‘Empowering the Future’ guide for free!
The Initiative focused on four key areas:
- developing and improving content
- conducting and learning from research
- highlighting role models
- developing a Guide of best practices for encouraging and sustaining girls in a Dojo setting
In terms of making sure our resources are girl-friendly and improving them through trialing them with girls and utilising their feedback, we have developed beginners content working with wearables and one focusing on building apps using App Inventor. From the feedback we have received from girls over the last six months we are exploring more creative, goal-orientated content. We also developed handy guides for Parents and Guardians as well as one for Ninjas that Dojos can use to help explain the importance of girls getting involved in being tech creators!
Additionally as part of our CoderDojo Girls Guide “Empowering the Future” we have developed three short “Mini-Sushi” projects aimed at providing a taster of different programming languages including Scratch, HTML and App Inventor.
We are currently finalising our intermediate level wearable Sushi Cards, which further explore wearables and integrate them with the coding skills they are learning. These cards enable young people to program lights, which can be sewn into clothing with conductive thread, to light up in various colours and sequences. We are also planning our third series of Sushi Cards which will focus on using coding skills to solve problems important to Ninjas. Feel free to give your suggestions and content feedback here.
In June 2017 we conducted the first Ninja survey. It was sent to all young people registered on the CoderDojo Community Platform (Zen). Hundreds of young people involved in Dojos around the world responded and shared their experiences! We are currently examining these results to identify areas in which girls feel most or least confident, as well as the motivations and influencing factors that cause them to continue with coding.
Over the coming months we will be delving deeper into the findings of this research and how we can improve our content and Dojo supports to adapt accordingly. Additionally, as part of our “Empowering the Future” guide we are asking Dojos to provide some insights as to where they are currently in terms of the proportion of girls and female mentors at their Dojos. We will be following up with those who receive the guide, to see what approaches they are trying at their Dojo and how this is impacting on the proportion of girls attending. These finding will enable us to see what approaches from the guide are most effective in different regional contexts, so we can continue to learn and provide the best support to Dojos to increase the proportion of girls involved.
Many Dojos, Champions and Mentors are doing amazing work to support and encourage girls at their Dojos. Female mentors not only help by supporting girls attending, but they also act as vital role models in an environment which can often be male-dominated. Blogs by Female Mentors and Ninjas that have already featured on our website include:
- Creating an environment to support female ninjas
- Building a Network to support female Mentors and Ninjas
- CoderDojo Youths: How Laura loves building robots with friends
- Celebrating Girls in ICT Day with CoderDojo
- [Video] Niamh on ways to encourage young girls in CoderDojo at a Mentor Meet Up
- Mentor Story: Maggie on understanding what kids want
- Aerospace Engineer, Tiera Guinn, at this years Coolest Projects
- Ruth and Alina (ninja) talk about their Dojo and badging!
We recognise the importance of role models and over the coming months we will continue to encourage community members to share their stories so that we can share them with the wider CoderDojo Community. Are you, or do you know a female mentor or ninja you would like to highlight to others in the CoderDojo Community? Have you found an approach or used content that girls find particularly engaging? We would love to hear your insights and experiences to inspire other Dojos and volunteers! Get in touch with the Foundation at [email protected].
“Role models were hugely important to me as a Ninja, and they still are today, even in university. Having other women teaching me to program impacted me strongly — I’d never seen female developers before I stepped into CoderDojo. My experience was that female Mentors sometimes were easier to talk to when I was stuck on something. I think the saying ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’ is true. If modern-day computing heroines were more visible to younger women, we could break down the current stereotype that coding isn’t for girls. It would demystify programming. At the end of the day, we simply can’t go on letting younger women feel out of place in technology.” — Vanessa Greene, 21, CoderDojo DCU Mentor and former Ninja
From today anyone will be also able to download and print our ‘Empowering the Future’ guide for free! This is our most comprehensive guide yet of practical approaches Dojos have tested to engage and sustain girls. Additionally Dojos who sign up here to improve the proportion of girls in their Dojo towards gender parity will have the guide sent out to them for free!
Some of the areas that are covered in the guide include:
- approaches to improve the Dojo environment and layout (Experience based layouts, keeping peers together, mentor approaches),
- accessing the language and images used to describe your Dojo,
- content considerations and suggested resources,
- importance of female mentors and ways to increase access to role models in your Dojo.
We would like to say a massive thank you to all Community members who have shared their insights with us to make our “Empowering the Future” Guide as comprehensive and beneficial as possible for other Dojos. The CoderDojo Foundation would also like to thank Microsoft, our funding partner on this project, for their commitment to bring to life STEM skills for European youth. Our sustained partnership aims to enable more youth to become creators of technology with a focus on empowering more young girls to code.
If you have any ideas, insights or experiences you feel would be beneficial for other Community members to hear more about in relation to supporting CoderDojo Girls, or if you have any questions feel free to use our forums to ask the global CoderDojo Community.
If you want to highlight a CoderDojo Girls role model from your Dojo use #CoderDojoGirls on social media or email [email protected].