When you ask girls what they want to be when they grow up we get all sorts of interesting answers. Sure we get mom, teacher, dancer, lawyer, doctor, hairstylist, fashion designer and many other great career options. As parents we want to inspire and encourage them to pursue their dreams and guide them on their life journeys – both boys and girls. “Be who you want to be” and “be the best that you can be” are our mantras…as long as it’s legal.
But I was surprised to find out that not too many girls choose technology, science or math as a career. According to a new study, out of the Canadians that considered a career in technology, only 18 per cent were women. A third admitted that the lack of encouragement was also a factor in entering this sector. In key poll findings from a recent Angus Reid Forum (University of Waterloo and Stats Canada) sited that women comprise of only 29 per cent of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates in Canada. More than half of women surveyed (57 per cent) expressed no interest in pursuing a job in the tech industry, which is a fast-growing industry in Canada offering higher salaries. In the overview of the Stats Can study it sited that women represent the majority of young university graduates, but are still underrepresented in STEM fields.
Is it because our schools are not offering enough in the curriculum? Is it because most of us parents don’t really know where to get the extra-curricular opportunities particularly at younger ages? And girls in particular, are they encouraged to pursue other fields?
So this came across my in-box the other day that is worth your eyeballs for a moment, particular if you have girls in your family. MasterCard Canada has launched a national campaign to bring more girls and women into the tech field. In partnership with Ladies Learning Code (a not-for-profit group that offers beginner friendly tech skills), the NATIONAL GIRLS LEARNING CODE DAY in Canada is a cross-country program that will offer more than 700 girls (ages 8-13) and their parents to take a FREE, 6-hour introductory coding class, held simultaneously across the country on November 8th. It’s an opportunity for girls and women to learn how a coding and developer skill-set provides exciting career options in today’s digital economy.
Melissa Crnic, Co-Executive Director, Ladies Ladies Learning Code, who runs the programming for the organization taught herself how oto code when she was only 10 years old. “Once I got into high school (although I was strong in math, science and showed an interest in technology) I was never encourage to pursue it,” said Melissa. “After I graduated University, I looked for opportunities to create big impact and change in my community and that’s about the same time we started Ladies Learning Code. For me, it’s about showing women and girls ways we can leverage technology to be creative and change the world. And that’s really exciting to me.”
“It’s so important to reach girls at an early age especially when the education curriculum is catching up to the marketplace in terms of a computer science,” said Melissa. “We’re excited to roll out an easy-to-learn program with in-person sessions across Canada as well as online and spark girls’ interest in fields that they may not have even been aware of.”
The NATIONAL GIRLS LEARNING CODE DAY free workshops will be held in: Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Barrie, London, Waterloo,, Hamilton, Montreal, Halifax, Fredericton, St. John’s (FL), and Winnipeg. For more information visit the site at ladieslearningcode.com/girlscodeday.