Photo credit to Erin Waliki

Girls Who Code: Bringing Women into Computer Science

It is a commonly known fact that women are underrepresented in the field computer science. However, many people do not realize how immense the gender gap really is; women make up only 17 percent of Google’s tech workers and 15 percent of Facebook’s. Girls Who Code, a national non-profit organization, was established in 2012 in order to help minimize this inequality.

All around the world, high schools are creating their own Girls Who Code clubs. The goal of every new section of the club established is to educate and inspire girls to pursue careers in computer science. Ridgewood High School followed this trend when Ms. Richardson, a math and computer science teacher, formed a Girls Who Code club just this year.

As soon as word got out about the new club, many boys at RHS who are also interested in computer science complained that there is not a “Boys Who Code” club, and claimed that the establishment of Girls Who Code was unfair to their own interest in the field. But to the members of Girls Who Code (which is open to male members), this discrepancy makes perfect sense. What many of these boys may be unaware of, is that men make up 80 percent of the nation’s computer science workforce, and that unless they support the idea of working in an almost entirely male field, they should not be complaining about a club that fosters female interest in programming.

Girls Who Code kicked off the year with an ‘Hour of Code’ activity in which the objective was to program an Angry Bird to move through a maze. At club meetings, which take place after school on Thursdays, the club usually takes part in some interactive lessons about coding and  3D printing. During Computer Science Education Week this past December, high school and middle school students participated in another ‘Hour of Code.’ Girls Who Code members taught the ‘Hour of Code’ to 8th graders at Benjamin Franklin Middle School and introduced them to the computer science classes offered at Ridgewood High School.

“It bothers me that in terms of social diversity, there’s a reputation that you have to be really nerdy to code,” says Anya Sherman, a junior. “Don’t let social stereotypes hold you back from doing what interests you!” said Izy Stern, the only girl in her programming class. “Being in a class with so few girls seemed like it would be intimidating, but it isn’t! Coding is really useful and fun, and Girls Who Code does a great job of promoting that.”

The main goal of Girls Who Code is to make more high school students aware of this amazing opportunity to represent a minority in the tech workforce. Over the course of the 2014-2015 school year, Girls Who Code has become an exceedingly successful addition to the high school, and has proven that girls really are interested in computer science. It is highly recommended that girls consider taking any one of the computer science classes offered at RHS. With the world becoming more and more technologically driven, who knows what women will be able to contribute to this field?

Erin Walicki
staff writer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *