How to facilitate coding education for women?
The UK, where software developers, cybersecurity professionals and data analysts are in high demand, faces a talent shortage in terms of digital skills.
And it’s not just the UK’s problem: two-thirds of tech companies globally suffer from a talent shortage, according to a recent report by London-based human resources firm Harvey Nash.
Harvey Nash’s survey of 2,100 companies also shows that the proportion of women in technical teams is increasing very slowly.
The average percentage of women in teams working in technology is 25%, while this rate drops to 12% for senior managers.
Given these startling statistics, I decided to realize how difficult it would be for a woman in her 30s to learn to code with Python.
For those unfamiliar, Python is a powerful general-purpose scripting language. Python is often the first language taught to undergraduate students in computer science courses.
It is often used in business, for example YouTube is largely written in Python.
If you want to learn to code today, you’ll need to enroll in a paid course, learn on your own using online resources, or find a community to teach you for free.
Ever since I learned the languages used to build websites on my own in the early 2000s, I thought I might have an advantage here.
So I assumed that I could also learn Python on my own.
I started with children’s computer toys. In this way, I hoped that the goal of moving the robots would keep me engaged and motivated.
But I soon realized it was over my head as I didn’t know how to use the software that came with the toys.
So I changed tactics. I tried out Code Academy, a popular free online education platform.
But I also found it a little scary: I was greeted by a black, blank command window that said “Type Hello World”.
To help me learn, I attended a free, one-day Python coding workshop called Teach the Nation to Code, run by UK education company QA.
The course, which takes place on Saturdays, was edited by Shafeeq Muhammad, Chief QA Technologist. Muhammad says learning to code has changed his life.
The adult class was difficult; You had to really want to learn to code to continue.
If you make mistakes in your code, no problem. Even when the code you’ve written works, it doesn’t produce much; you only see a few lines on the screen.
Additionally, I took classes on two different platforms called Cypher Coders and Creator Academy to learn Scratch, a coding language with a simple visual interface for kids. Scratch can be used to create games, animations and even program robots.
The kids’ classes were a lot more fun with exciting goals like playing a video game or making an interactive pet, but there wasn’t much theory here either.
Also, I felt the transition from Scratch to Python was jarring because you were going through the colored blocks to a blank screen with no support every now and then.
adapt to adults
So what can help bridge this gap in the transition from writing fun games for kids to more complex professional code?
Garry Law, the founder of Australian coding training company Creator Academy, says IT education should be better with the following words:
“We need to teach children to code with visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles and adapt these learning methods to adults to attract more people to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)” , he said.
Elizabeth Tweedale, boss of Cypher Coders, goes one step further. She thinks men and women often have different learning styles and coding education should take this into account.
She says that men generally follow a linear A-Z approach when solving problems, while women generally start from the problem and work back.
“We need to reinvent technology, user interfaces and coding environments to attract women,” says Tweedale.
Cost is also a big issue for this. Learning to code often costs £10,000, according to Anna Brailsford, chief executive of social initiative Code First: Girls (CFG), which prioritises women in coding education. However, there is often no clear link between what has been taught and the jobs available.
“Women are more likely to drop out unless there is a clear career path,” Brailsford said. said.
CFG provides women with 13 weeks of intensive training and connects computer programming to people’s interests so they learn key skills that are useful on the job. CFG then places participants into tech careers based on their strengths.
The Creator Academy, meanwhile, is a startup founded in part by the Australian state of New South Wales that gives parents AUD 100 a year to spend on their kids’ tech lessons. Thanks to the Creator Academy, girls make up 40% of Garry Law’s classes.
Tweedale suggests hosting widely publicized hackathons with attractive rewards such as cash or internships with tech giants.
Beverley Newing, 28, a web developer for the UK Ministry of Justice, agrees that the way we teach science and technology needs to change.
Newing dreamed of studying physics at university but did not succeed. “During my international undergraduate studies, I struggled a lot with male dominance in maths lessons,” she told the BBC. says and adds:
“I couldn’t adapt and had a hard time approaching the teacher when I couldn’t understand.”
After graduating from the literature department, Newing, who received government support to earn a living, decided to learn to code.
She had to be fast, because she couldn’t afford to take classes and she had to start her internship as soon as possible.
Newing says he owes his community, CFG, and the charity Codebar, which have been key in changing his life.
“I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t done that internship,” Newing says.
“I think there is an inclusion issue and we need more paid internships in the industry so you can pay your bills while doing your internship.”