Vodafone competition challenges girls to get into coding

Jessica McGarry (15) and Nadine Clarke (15), Cabinteely Community School

17 November 2017

Vodafone Ireland today announced #CodeLikeaGirl, a series of week-long workshops which aim to teach teenage girls how to code. The initiative – run in partnership with CodeFirst: Girls and supported by Technology and the Women’s Network – will provide female students with basic knowledge of computer languages and development programmes, with the aim of building a website upon completion.

The #CodeLikeaGirl project forms part of global Vodafone partnership with CodeFirst: Girls to provide teenage girls across 26 countries with coding training. It is the largest international, in-person global coding programme and aims to encourage more young girls to consider a career in STEM in the future by teaching them to build something tangible they can be proud of.

It is estimated that there are more than 120,000 people in Ireland working directly in roles requiring STEM experience but just one quarter of those working in this area are women. In 2015 only 5.3% of Leaving Certificate engineering students were girls and boys outnumbered girls 3:1 in technology subjects.

Earlier this year, the United Nations Educations, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) expressed concerns that “female participation is falling in a field that is expanding globally”. Men still dominate the number of STEM graduates in most countries. In 2014, around 22% of UK graduates in science, mathematics and computing were women. The gap was wider in Germany (19.3%), France (21.5%) and Switzerland (14.7%). In the United States, women make up around a quarter of those in STEM occupations. STEM fields also have fewer women on boards than any other sectors.

Coding is becoming one of the most in-demand skills across industries as an increasing number of businesses now rely on computer code. Half of all programming openings are in industries outside of technology, such as finance, healthcare and manufacturing, while recent research found that coding has become a core skill that bolsters a candidate’s chances of commanding a high salary.

James Magill, human resources director, Vodafone, said: “In recent years, there has been significant progress in closing the global gender gap in various aspects of society. However, in many countries, the gap is widening in STEM careers. #CodeLikeaGirl aims to help close that gap here in Ireland and show young girls that a future in STEM is an exciting prospect. We know that coding is going to play an even bigger role in careers in the future so it’s important that we empower young women to learn this skill while at school.”

Speaking at the first #CodeLikeAGirl workshop at Cabinteely Community School, teacher Melissa McGuirk said: “The reaction from our students in attendance has been truly remarkable. Vodafone Ireland’s #CodeLikeaGirl initiative offers young females the unmissable opportunity to get involved in the creation and development of technology and to experience first-hand the workings of a coder. By the end of the week, each of these teenagers proudly produced a fully functional, coded website. These classes are crucial in providing a stepping stone for Ireland’s next generation of female STEM specialists and inspiring them to embark on a thriving career path.”

TechCentral Reporters

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