Never to late to learn to code
Where are the female equivalents of Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg? Why do less than 1% of high school girls select computer science as a university major?
Academic institutions need to find innovative ways to attract women into our engineering and technology classrooms. Increasing the much-needed presence of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) begins with nurturing the next generation.
When I worked at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Engineering, I often spoke to young female students who excelled in mathematics and science and yet were reluctant to choose engineering as a field of study. Many young women are intimidated by the gender gap found in university classrooms. Although we are seeing improvements in the number of women choosing areas such as biomedical and chemical engineering, approximately 85% of students in engineering streams are male. I believe that young women should be encouraged to develop their technology skills and female mentors can help them to become passionate builders of technology.
Creating opportunities for girls in technology and engineering is a priority. There are many strategies in place to help prospective students choose STEM fields as postsecondary concentrations but unless female students are exposed to opportunities and mentors in high school, many will not realise that studying technology can lead to a rewarding and stimulating career. We need to develop programs that reach out to students before they get to university.
We need to promote IT as a challenging, dynamic, fun career filled with endless opportunity. It was not difficult to convince others that a workshop of this kind would benefit girls and give female mentors a chance to showcase their success and passion for technology.
The time is now to encourage girls to opt for STEM programs.
Today, the power of mentorship has never been more important to help young girls and women not only remain passionate about science, technology, engineering and math, but also to believe that they, too, will be future leaders in these fields.
FemCity is about female empowerment and we need to bring together women in technology to showcase their success and prove that women can code and can lead technological advances. FemCity Ottawa will host coding events for women from all backgrounds. We cannot wait!