Diversity: Raising Girls in Tech
As individuals, it is up to us to create a positive impact on those we influence and to instill in them that gender doesn’t play a role in what we are capable of. As a female programmer, I feel like it is part of my duty to get other women and young girls excited about programming. With so few women in STEM careers, part of our goal should be to introduce those around us to the idea of computer science as a career path.
If we want to modify the statistics and behavior in our industry, then we need to start by getting more involved in changing the game. Involvement can be as simple as getting your kid, your niece or your friend’s kids interested in learning to code. You could volunteer at local seminars or bootcamps. If time is the issue, you could also make a donation which so many non-profits rely on to keep teaching and inspiring young girls.
If your a parent and your kid is already interested in code, get them involved this week! Each year there is a week dedicated to introducing students to programming called, Hour of Code™. The site offers help on everything from learning to code to teaching code.
Lead By Example
The easiest way we can inspire young girls it to get them interested in what we do by doing something, well, interesting. This comes a bit easy for me personally, as my husband and I make video games at our company Black Hive Media. Kids have different interest levels obviously, so what we find super intriguing in data structures will come across totally boring to them. Find something relatable to them, and create a simple project together. This simple project will go a long way with them.
Be the “Cool” Aunt
Recently, my 8 year-old niece told me that she might want to be a game developer when she grows up. That is probably the biggest compliment a kid can give someone. Of course game development has so many different areas, and she wasn’t sure which route she was interested in, let alone that there were so many options. So we sat down together, she decided on a theme and I created a basic project for her, an interactive comic book. This also happened to be the first project I created when I first started learning to code. After a few hours of her drawing characters, I set up a super basic script and project. From there she copied some of my scripts, learned how to drag and drop game objects to public variables and even animated her characters. This simple project gave her a taste of how rewarding programming is, and that sense of accomplishment is the best place to start.
The tech industry is an evolving beast and getting involved is the most important thing we can do right now if we hope to level the playing field and create an unbiased, diverse workplace. As busy and demanding as our fields are, I can’t help but to think that our biggest responsibility is to make time and to pave the way for the young girls in our lives, much like the way previous women (like Admiral Grace Hopper) did for us. Everyone needs a champion, who’s champion will you be?