From Facebook, Twitter, and Google to computer science programs at universities and colleges, women make up a shockingly small percentage of coders and tech professionals. The impact of this cannot be underestimated: If tech is to change the world for the better, Step 1 is making sure the people making tech look like the people using it.
If tech is to change the world for the better, Step 1 is making sure the people making tech look like the people using it.
Teachers nationwide are working to fix this by helping girls see themselves as coders, and we're seeing some success already. Thanks to these successes, educators and researchers have learned a lot about how we can better diversify coding instruction for girls and beyond: 1). Start as early as possible; 2). Focus on creative coding; 3). Make it social and/or collaborative; and 4). Highlight mentors and role models.
Luckily some awesome apps, games, and websites are aimed at changing the face of tech. Here are four trailblazing examples.
Scratch could fit into any of our categories, but it's a particularly good place to start girls off and spark their interest. It features a super easy and highly visual creation tool, focuses on creating and sharing fun games and animations, and has a vibrant community. For even younger kids, there's ScratchJr.
FOCUS ON CREATIVE CODING
Price: Free to try, paid
MAKE IT SOCIAL
Platform: Web and app
DIY doesn't focus on coding specifically, but do some digging and you'll find a lot of great hands-on creative projects for budding engineers, programmers, and designers. Girls can learn tons of practical skills, such as how to create app wireframes, make websites, or design games and then share what they make with a supportive community of creative kids for feedback and further inspiration.
Created by Google, Made with Code offers quick coding tutorials using the accessible Blockly language. What sets Made with Code apart are the stellar mentor videos featuring interviews with a diverse group of women who work in technical fields. These videos do a great job of modeling success for girls and fit perfectly in any curriculum.