By CATELEN WU
August 16, 2017
“It’s a nonprofit national organization that gathers girls together and teaches them how to code. Its goal is to close the gender gap in technology fields.”
When you hear the words “computer science,” “software engineering,” “coding,” or even “hacking,” what do you think of? Or more specifically, who do you think of?
Majority of STEM fields are male. There are many reasons for this, one of them being that generally, young girls have been discouraged from exploring STEM fields. As written on the Girls Who Code website, “Tech jobs are among the fastest-growing in the country, yet girls are being left behind. While interest in computer science ebbs over time, the biggest drop off happens between the ages of 13-17.” There are also events that have occurred where women have taken a technology class with mostly male students, have been harassed and demeaned for being a woman interested in technology.
However, there are programs and clubs that work to prevent these problems from arising. One of them is Girls Who Code.
Girls Who Code does not only make an impact on young girls interested in STEM-related fields, it also impacts the nation and the society we live in.
So what exactly is Girls Who Code? Well, it’s a nonprofit national organization that gathers girls together and teaches them how to code. Its goal is to close the gender gap in technology fields. Yet, Girls Who Code is also much more than that. It’s a chance to meet and bond with new people, to gain opportunities you never had before, and to learn different skills that you may never have thought you would need or want in your life. Even if you don’t plan on becoming a software engineer, having coding skills will definitely help you with your career and interests. Girls Who Code is something life-changing – and I speak from experience.
Computer science was never something that really interested me. My sister would tell me stories about how her best friend from elementary school was a software engineer and although they were interesting, I didn’t think they mattered to me. At the time, I didn’t really make an effort to explore new things that could potentially be my passions.
However, one day, I decided to try coding. Maybe it would be fun, maybe it wouldn’t be. After a while, I realized that this was something I genuinely enjoyed. Doing some research led me to the Girls Who Code website. That wasn’t the first time I had heard of this organization, but it was the first time I was exposed to it. A couple of years later, a friend suggested that I apply to a Girls Who Code club at Columbia University. And now, I can honestly say that applying was one of the best decisions of my life.
I remember my first Girls Who Code class at Columbia University. I was extremely nervous, because I was late and going to a place I had never been to before. I walked in and gave an awkward wave, not knowing what to expect. But what greeted me was a bunch of friendly smiles that immediately made me feel at ease. It was at that moment I realized Girls Who Code was a place I knew I could fit in. Fast forward a few months, and we were working on our individual coding projects, using the new skills we had gathered during the course. It was exciting to have a goal in mind and to be able to achieve it. The coding projects took weeks of hard work and dedication, but the outcomes were ones we were all extremely proud of.
Coding went from something I never thought of doing, to something I always make time to do. Coding isn’t just a hobby; it’s also an ultimate passion of mine. For me, coding is always a fun challenge. Being in Girls Who Code allows me to learn new programming languages and shows me a different world beyond the few websites I used to learn coding from.
Girls Who Code does not only make an impact on young girls interested in STEM-related fields, it also impacts the nation and the society we live in. If you, or anyone you know, may be interested in learning more about this, please go to their website.