Girls That Code

Growing up, I watched my mom be a total science geek. She studied Mechanical Engineering at Western and used to work doing freelance tech work-including coding. Because of this, I never noticed a gender bias in the technology field. As I got older I never had any interest in technology, but when my best friend joined our high school’s Robotics club, I noticed she was one of the few girls attending meetings. Even then, the four or five other girls involved were there for the business side; finding sponsors etc. and not involved in any of the actual mechanics. From that point on, I have always tried to take into consideration the gender divide in the workplace (in any discipline) so when we talked about coding this past week in EID 100, I decided I had to learn how to code for my weekly module.

I was a little wary about this decision because as mentioned, I never really had much interest in tech and thinking back to my mom spending hours at home coding looked tedious and complicated. But once I started, I was pleasantly surprised how basic coding really was and how much I enjoyed it. For this module, I used Code Academy, a website that offers tons of free coding lessons with all kinds of difficulties and purposes. I completed the recommended lesson “Learn HTML & CSS:Part 1” which laid out the basics of the two fundamental coding languages, HyperText Markup Language and Cascading Style Sheets.

Code Academy does an excellent job explaining how to use HTML and CSS together, and despite my boyfriend commenting on how complicated it looked, it was actually pretty easy due to the site’s layout.

Code Academy: Lesson Example

On the far left of the page, you are given a description of whatever lesson is being taught, followed by instructions. You complete the instructions in the centre box, and then hit the “Run” command. If your code is correct, you can see the changes made on the page to the right, and if it is incorrect, it will ask you to retry. If you can’t figure out what you are doing wrong, you can ask for a hint or for the entire code.

Completing the whole course probably took me 3–4 hours over the span of five days. As you progress throughout each lesson, you receive badges like the following:

Code Academy: Earned Badges

While completing the course, everything is pretty straight forward but it is a lot of information to remember so if you were to ask me to code right now, I would need a cheat sheet for some parts. But as with everything, practise makes perfect so I know I’ll get the hang of it eventually. I do plan to continue to learn how to code because I honestly find it pretty relaxing.

My new fascination with coding lead me to look up the organization Girls Who Code. This national nonprofit is aimed towards lowering the gender gap in the tech industry. While looking through their website, I found some really surprising facts like since the 1980s, the gender gap in computing is actually becoming wider with 37% of science graduates being female in 1984 compared to only 18% now. Even then, women are only expected to fill 3% of 1.4 million computing jobs-that is crazy! I’m not saying that I am going to switch fields and become a computer programer, but I am saying that an emphasis on the tech industry should be raised towards young girls. This male dominated field could definitely use some more powerful women.

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