The Girl Code — Code with Confidence
The world is changing. Over the past few decades, we’ve seen it progress at a previously unimaginable pace in several aspects — most noticeably, the technology that we possess. Not too long ago, computers filled up rooms; but today, they fit in our pockets. To communicate with someone in a different country meant writing letters and waiting weeks for a response, or spending large amounts of money to talk to them on the phone; today, these people are just a few clicks away. Technology has advanced so much already, and it won’t stop growing. Computer programming has become the language of the future, and as our world becomes more and more digitized, it will transform from a language to a superpower, enabling us to control computers and create new things.
It seems that in our world however, that superpower currently belongs exclusively to men. Only 11% of the world’s programmers are female. 17% of Google’s tech jobs, 15% of Facebook’s and a dismal 10% of Twitter’s are held by women — and after being told for years that coding “just isn’t for them”, in a world where there are over 3 men in the tech industry for every woman, it’s no surprise that many girls and women find themselves hesitant to learn code and become a part of the tech industry.
Sixteen-year-old Japnit Kaur Ahuja realized this when she saw that she had been the only girl among twenty boys in her school’s computer club for three years — something not uncommon even in prominent schools in Delhi, where only 4% of their computer club members are female. In 2017, she founded The Girl Code with her friend Samriddhi Agnihotri in order to change this norm.
Today, The Girl Code is based in New Delhi and Singapore and comprises solely of students — teenagers looking to make a difference in the world. These students run and manage this project, which aims to encourage girls to code and instill in them the confidence that they can code, thus eradicating the essential problem of a lack of confidence. By teaching them Python through interactive media and fun methods and exposing them to a community of like-minded girls, The Girl Code contributes to the effort to give rise to female programmers set to take the IT world by storm.
Through our web platform, designed by our students, in the organization we have opened up the world of programming to young girls. It is a 10-chapter online course that teaches them how to program with Python.
Along with easy access to tutorials, it also comes with a forum where students can interact with Mentors (female volunteers who are seventeen and eighteen years of age) and like-minded individuals, forming a community which acts as a safe haven for them to reach out to for help.
The Girl Code also holds workshops at various schools to encourage female students to start coding. We held our first workshop at The Mother’s International School, one of the top 10 schools in India, on January 2nd, 2018. Over 50 girls, ranging from 7 to 16 years of age attended. The girls began the workshop with absolutely no prior knowledge of programming, but by the end, had all constructed a game using Scratch and were proficient in Python.
There was a stark contrast between the girls who entered the workshop at the beginning of the day to when they left. They had transformed from shy, diffident girls to girls who were confident in themselves and their abilities. A few weeks after the workshop, two new participants had joined the school’s computing club, MINET, and another had cleared a cyber Olympiad.
Our second workshop took place in May at Gyan Bharati School and was equally a success.
We plan to host summer workshops at several schools in Delhi and Singapore to further their goal of reducing the gender gap in the tech industry.
We have also launched a video campaign titled, “Code with Confidence”, wherein female programmers from around the world share their programming origins and journey in order to inspire young girls.
Today, women make up only a fraction of the tech industry. But there’s change in the air. Initiatives such as this are not only changing the lives of individuals, but are also changing the very structure of society. The Girl Code is a testament to the female youth of our world. Tomorrow, women like these will be the leaders of the industry — and they want you to be among them.