CodeTank Labs Empowering Future Female Leaders in Tech
Women make up over half the population, so why is it that females account for only 18% of all computer science degrees in the U.S. and are less likely to learn CS at all? Well, factors that seem to inhibit young women from pursuing computer science degrees are 1) a lack of awareness around computer science, 2) lack of CS-affiliated role models and 3) lack of exposure to programming and coding. At CodeTank Labs, we want to inspire the future generation of tech leaders by showing that a career in computer science is available to everyone, especially young women.
This year we decided to partner with Girls Inc to bring computer science awareness to young girls of the Knoxville community. Girls Inc is a nonprofit organization that encourages all girls to be “Strong, Smart, and Bold” through direct service and advocacy. We thought, what better way to align with their mission statement than to send along our very own smart, strong and bold women of CodeTank Labs to teach the girls of Girls Inc about programming code and emerging technologies like virtual reality.
We joined up with Girls Inc at their summer camp, where they work primarily with girls ages 5-12. During our time with the girls, we demonstrated one of our virtual reality headsets, the Oculus Rift, and let the girls play around with a VR demo we created in-house; we discussed what excites them about technology, how some of their interests translate to software development and how their skills can be applied into computer science; we also explained binary code and computer languages by helping the girls string together bracelets using their initials in binary code.
“This experience really got the girls asking questions about technology and the career possibilities within it. The girls were excited, engaged and wanting more. When girls see themselves represented in fields where they are typically not, such as technology, it has an amazing impact on how they view themselves and what they conceive as possible,” said Meghan Byrge, the Director of Outreach at Girls Inc – Knoxville.
It was extremely rewarding to see how receptive the girls were to our planned activities and we loved our time with them. Every few seconds, we would hear a “WOW!” or “This is so cool!” We talked to the girls about how they can use their creativity to develop an app, software, or game limited only by their imagination. It was amazing to see the inspiration in the girls’ eyes and happiness in their voices. Each girl was engaged and curious to learn more. In this field, it’s important to encourage kids at a young age. A study done by Google found that students that received encouragement and empowerment were nearly 3 times more likely to pursue computer science. We want to be a source of encouragement to all students, boys and girls alike.
Written by Ethan Rosas @ CodeTank Labs
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