Coding in Education

Coding for Girls: How to Engage and Inspire

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Coding for girls doesn’t involve dressing the material in pink. Girls who code do so for the same reasons that boys might – an interest in technology or the desire for a rewarding career.

An open and positive environment for learning can go a long way towards engaging students in a subject they may not otherwise consider. Here are five ways to get girls who code excited to come to class.

1. Invite a mentor to speak about being one of the girls who code.

A successful real life role model from a local organization can show students that coding for girls is a viable and in-demand career path. Glassbreakers is an online platform that college students and high school seniors may find useful; it pairs women with peers in the tech industry for mentoring and networking opportunities.

2. Show them the benefits.

There are a lot of very practical reasons that might entice a student to want to learn how to code, even if they don’t intend to pursue a STEM major specifically. Girls who code might use their skills to start or improve a blog or online business. Coding for girls can lead to a good salary, even at entry levels. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer programmers made a mean salary of $82,690 in 2014.

Coding for Girls3. Help students improve on their own terms.

There are many free or low-cost online resources┬áthat allow students to build their skills at an independent pace and pursue the topics that interest them the most. Codecademy and edX are both accessible and free. “Girls Who Code” is another organization with a direct goal of closing the gender gap in the tech field through education. Their club’s program is a place where coding for girls in middle and high school is the main objective.

4. Offer useful feedback, but don’t segregate.

Girls who code are owed an education that’s equal to that of their male counterparts. That means remaining open to potential gender biases and asking questions that are of proportionate difficulty when calling on female students. Take a careful look at test scores and watch for imbalances so that they can be addressed if necessary.

5. Have conversations.

One way to encourage coding for girls is to openly ask them what appeals to them about computer science and what doesn’t. Girls who code might be more willing to dive in if it helps them to participate in something they already love, like video games. Who doesn’t like to have fun as they learn?

You can’t teach something that you don’t understand thoroughly, so here are some ways you can learn how to code or enhance your skills on your own.

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