In recent years, institutions everywhere are realizing the movement to close the gender gap in technology. An instructor at KTBYTE states, “Girls perform very well on assignments and projects and progress at a very steady rate toward higher-level classes.” KTBYTE isn’t the only one noticing these phenomenal qualities. Universities are noticing them too, and are dishing out major scholarships to help fund the future of women in the computer science industry. They are beginning to value the unique voice of a young woman in a male-dominant world. This, of course, doesn’t happen overnight. It has to start somewhere, and that is in the comfort of our own homes.
As early as eight, we can teach our young ladies some of the basics of coding. Some children begin coding before they even know how to spell and write words. Coding gives kids insight into the world around them. From banking to shopping and from thermostats to security, computing is part of our everyday lives. Additionally, coding helps them to problem solve and gain core computational thinking skills that are instrumental to their success. Young adult females are realizing that they have a major role in the science field as well, but because of the perceived gender barrier, many do not continue the path of pursuing a degree in computer science. A report from the Girl Scout Research Institute states that “Seventy-four percent of high school girls across the country are interested in the fields and subjects of STEM.” It goes further to say “Women account for about only 20% of the bachelor’s degrees in engineering, computer science, and physics.” It’s our responsibility as parents to break those barriers and teach our daughters to have the mindset that they can do anything that they want to do.
Since coding requires KTBYTE has even taken it a step further by having many female students become teacher assistants. They can either apply for the position or be invited to apply. The girls at KTBYTE are known for being attentive and clear communicators and the program has asked these young ladies to rise to the occasion. The school has even hired volunteer assistants as young as 11 years old such as Kembry who is a 6th grader here at KTBYTE.
After school programs and educational institutions such as KTBYTE, give young women everywhere access to high-quality computer science education that is fun, accessible, and challenging. One major movement to close the gender gap was generated from Reshma Saujani who facilitated the program “Girls who Code.” She states,
“We are on track to achieve gender parity in computer science by 2027. And we know why: because our work is as much about quantity, as it is about quality. We scale our programs to reach more girls in more places and give them the chance to forge lifelong bonds so they may persist in computer science.”
This non-profit is dedicated to creating computer science opportunities geared toward girls in high school. Their intensive program covers programming fundamentals, robotics, web development, and design and is all free thanks to some notable backers such as Google, Twitter, and Microsoft just to name a few. Here at KTBYTE, we offer a workshop for both beginners and advanced programmers. For example, young ladies that love painting on a canvas might find our Painting in Java workshop right up their alley. For all our young women that have a passion for doodling might find our Computational Design on Printed Canvas exciting and fun. Maybe they will even take it a step further and sign up for a local hackathon or robotics team. It’s programs like these and many others that give the push to these young women to make them realize their value that they have in the technology world.
Want to turn your girl into a Wonder Woman at coding? Enroll them in programs that educate them in the coding realm that tap into their creativity. Give them confidence that they can be anything they want to be in a man’s world. Empower them and tell them to shout from the rooftops that their gender does not define their works. Make them aware of all of their amazing attributes, and how they can break down the gender barriers that many women face today. Watch them become a Wonder Woman at coding.
Do you remember the exact moment that you wanted to learn more about coding?
Megan: I initially did not believe that I would like coding in general, but once I came to KTBYTE and took the CS00a class, I started to enjoy coding more. I used to believe that coding was so difficult and abstract, but the basic concepts that were taught to me in CS00a were relatively easy to understand, which made me think that coding might not have been as complicated as I had thought. I also thought it was fun to experiment with different structures of coding (whether that be loops, arrays, or variables), and I wanted to learn more about these structures and how they could be used to design games, make art, apply to the real world, etc.
Amanda: When I was younger, I used to watch documentaries on PBS and be amazed at the amount of progress that was being made in the field of technology in a relatively short amount of time that could transform our lives completely. My mom would always tell me that if I went into the field of technology, I could change the world. This inspired me to take a computer science camp in the summer before 8th grade where I learned about basic concepts of coding, such as booleans, loops, etc.. I discovered that I loved coding – it was like solving a problem. I wanted to deepen my knowledge of programming, so in the fall of 2017, I applied for the local Girls Who Code branch in the neighboring town to my town, Andover, but I did not get in due to the number of people who wanted to participate. In March of 2018, there was a computer science fair hosted by Boston Tech Moms that my parents and I attended. Here, we discovered KTBYTE and I decided to sign up for two classes in the summer. KTBYTE has really turned my seed of interest into a passion for computer science.
What do you think about the gender barriers that many teenage women face today?
Megan: I feel as though we are slowly (but surely) breaking these barriers that confine young women right now, as we are giving girls more and more opportunities to learn computer science, math, etc., whereas before, these fields were much more male-dominated. I believe that gender has nothing to do with an individual’s capabilities, so anyone who is given a chance to learn has the capability to succeed and thrive.
Amanda: Teenage women still do face a significant amount of gender discrimination, as many girls still do not have access to the same quality of education as their male counterparts do. Especially in the technology sector, women are underrepresented; this can be seen in the ratio of male CEOs to female CEOs in the Fortune 500. Part of this is because girls sometimes have an internalized philosophy of self-criticism that boys oftentimes lack due to the behavior that society depicts as “normal” for women. When girls are immersed in computer science, it boosts their self-confidence, determination, and communication skills because they learn that even if solving a problem takes a lot of struggling, it is still worth it to try to find the solution. Through programs like KTBYTE, the gender gap will eventually be closed, paving the path for strong female leaders to make a positive impact on the world through technology.
Did your parents play any role in guiding you in the path of computer science?
Megan: My parents were the people who encouraged me to give computer science a try, and they signed me up for courses at KTBYTE. My dad is a computer scientist/engineer and he has helped me greatly throughout my learning of computer science, as he is able to explain any difficult concepts that I have trouble understanding. My parents have also shown me that there are so many opportunities that come with learning computer science, such as good jobs, many job opportunities, and also how the other subjects at school that I learn are intertwined with computer science. They explained how all our technology, machines, robots, etc. are all based in code, and without it, there would be no technology.
Amanda: My parents were always the people who encouraged me to pursue my dreams, even if it took a lot of grit to get there. My mom always talked about the benefits of getting involved in STEM and bettering the world through innovation. Even through driving me to summer camp an hour away, supporting my desire to learn more about programming even when I was not accepted into my local Girls Who Code branch (due to a large amount of applicants), my family has always told me to never give up. In March 2018, my mom discovered a fair hosted by Boston Tech Moms and urged me to go, which is where I discovered KTBYTE. Even with a minimal background in technology, they have always understood how much it can benefit humankind.
What is your favorite course at KYBYTE?
Megan: I enjoyed courses from CS00a to CS01b the most, because they initially taught me the basics of code, then transitioned to more complex parts of code, such as object-oriented programming, more data structures, etc. These classes were the most manageable for me, and I was relatively challenged through them.
Amanda: So far, I have taken CS00a, CS00b, and CS01a, and I have loved them all! My instructors have always encouraged me to think out of the box by constantly questioning why a solution to a problem actually works and how we discovered it. Through these courses, I have learned aspects of programming such as array lists, recursion, and object-oriented programming that have broadened my perspective of what technology can do.