Posted by Hailee Vassell

How teen girls really feel about code

Hailee is a grade 12 high school student and has been a Ladies Learning Code Teen Club member since 2015. She is passionate about technology and entrepreneurship. She hopes to one day combine these passions and be a trailblazer for the next generation of girls. Hailee is currently a Teen Club Ambassador. In this blog post, she interviews teen girls and explores what they think about technology and coding.

 

Before I started research for this blog post, I understood that women and girls were underrepresented in STEM fields: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. I wanted to better understand why that was, especially in the tech industry. Most girls are in some way, shape, or form consumers of tech—but most don’t decide to be the creators of tech.

 

I decided to ask teen girls some questions about their perception of coding and technology. Did they know what code was? Were they interested in learning more about tech? What role did they see tech playing in their future?

Here’s what they had to say:

What is code?

“A hard list of stuff that gives you access to somebody’s stuff”

– Sidra,16

 

“The programming of a computer”

– Regine, 17

“An action or a symbol to warn somebody or to communicate with somebody”’

-Luchia,17

“The back of a computer, so like the brain of it and the mind of it. It gives the code it’s personal little touches”

-Emma,17

How do you think technology will play a role in your future?

“I think that technology will make us lazy, because technology will be doing stuff that we could be doing ourselves”

– Haujra,16

 

“Jobs. I feel like tech will be will everything going forward, because we’re expanding on it so fast. So I think it will be the difference between having a really successful job than just doing whatever”

-Wila,12

 

“Well nowadays everything is connected to technology so it will be apart of my life either way”

– Joanne,17

 

“ It will play a big role because I want to be a software engineer”

– Manar, 17

 

“ We’ll all be ruled by robots[…] in maybe a hundred years, but that won’t be my problem”-      

-Nicola,15

 

Do you have an interest in learning more about technology? Why or why not?

“No, I wouldn’t want to learn more because it doesn’t benefit me in any way and I don’t think I’ll ever use it.”

– Rhea, 17

 

“Yes, because I feel like technology is progressing day by day and we need to catch up and not fall behind”

– Hasna,16

 

“Yes I do. Because first of all its very cool and it’s just a helpful skill to have because nowadays everyone is into tech.”

– Joanne,17

 

“No, because I’m bad with computers”

– Vivan,16

 

“No, because I don’t like technology. I’m more hands on and more engaging in person. I don’t like to rely on technology…what if it breaks down and stuff?”

– Melany,16

Were those answers what you expected?

Personally, going into this I didn’t really know what to expect. But after talking to all these girls, I have a better understanding of why there is such a lack of women and girls working in STEM, or even simply interested in it. Every girl that I talked to had used and/or engaged with technology, but few had an interest or understanding of the “back-end” of the tech they were consuming. This was what really came as a surprise to me! Many of these girls also admitted that technology was a part of their daily lives and that it would likely play a larger role in their futures.

Still, some girls said they genuinely had no interest in learning more about technology. It took me a while to figure out why that was–but when I listened to girls respond to the question “What is the first thing that comes to mind when I say hacker or coder?”, I realized most girls simply affiliated a coder with being a “geek”’, computers, or just something mischievous in general. This is probably due to the fact that the ‘TE’ in STEM—technology and engineering—are never really formally taught in school.  Most people have only really heard of hackers and coders in movies or TV shows, where they are characterized as nerdy, loners, or just up to no good. And the only other place these girls may have hear about hackers or coders would have been the news, where it would have likely been a male figure. Can you really blame these girls?

What can we do to increase representation of girls in the tech industry?

First, it’s important that we talk about coding and technology. We need to debunk the myths that young girls may have about the field. As a community, we should put a stronger emphasis on recognizing and praising women and girls already accomplishing major things within the STEM fields. Girls need female role models and people to look up to in the field of STEM.

 

And finally, we should encourage girls to start coding and learning more about tech, by joining programs like Teen Club at Ladies Learning Code!

 

Are you a high school-aged girl between 13 and 17 who’s interested in gaining coding skills and learning more about the tech industry–or do you know one? In addition to our monthly coding workshops, Teen Club offers regular opportunities to visit workspaces in Toronto’s local tech scene, as well as participate in industry events such as the NASA Space Apps Hackathon, FITC and Google’s GO NORTH Conference. You can learn more about Teen Club, browse our upcoming events, and register to become a member here: http://ladieslearningcode.com/teen-club/