Friday, 22 June 2018 16:49

This July school holidays, Microsoft's Pitt St Mall store invites girls to 'Code Like a Girl'

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Girls in the "approx 6-15 years old" age group with an interest in learning to code are invited by Microsoft to attend free coding workshops between 9 and 15 July, but no boys are allowed!

One day we might have a group called "Code Like a Kid", or perhaps separate "Code Like a Boy" and "Code like a Girl" workshops and groups, but given the massive disparity between men and women in tech, it's only natural that work to dramatically augment female participation in the world of tech is needed.

Need proof? Well, we're told that recent industry research points to the last two years seeing more than 40,000 ICT jobs have been created in Australia, but only 13% of girls study STEM in grades 11 and 12, and just 1 in 10 enrolments to IT-based degrees are girls!

Combined, women account for less than 24% of the current IT workforce.

So, this clearly illuminates and illustrates why organisations such as "Code Like a Girl" are needed. For those wanting co-ed coding classes, or who simply want to give their boys something to do while their girls attend Code Like a Girl, send your boys (and/or girls) over to great Australian or Aussie-enabled sites like the Hour of Code site, Code Camp, Coding Kids, Coder Academy, Tynker, Run Stem, Code Club Australia, Plural Sight and School Holidays Coding Classes for Kids (to learn Python!) among others.

There's also a site like Girls Who Code, but this appears to cater to girls in the US and Canada only, or at least, for now.

There's also Apple's own Swift Playgrouns app, freely available to anyone with an iPad, that can help teach kids or anyone of any age to code. 

Of course, there are also those who suggest learning to code will be about as useful as learning Ancient Greek in the future, and because AI will supposedly replace developers and coders in the future, but don't listen to these people — learning a new language of any kind improves the brain, and it will be a long time before AI can truly replace human creativity — and your kids can meet like-minded kids, make new friends, expand their brains, use tech for good, and maybe even create a profitable app business one day!

So, how do you get your girls along to the Code Like a Girl free coding workshops?

Details below, but first – the workshops "aim to address the need for skilled female information communications technology (ICT) specialists, working to empower and inspire young girls to get involved in coding and encourage this skill for potential future careers in IT industries".

We're also told the "Code Like a Girl workshops are the latest addition to the line-up of free educational workshops available at Microsoft Store. These range from Academy to Creative illustration and design to Xbox game design and Minecraft coding".

"The Code Like a Girl workshops address the growing need for skilled ICT workers in Australia and Microsoft’s commitment to improving diversity in the tech industry.

"Code Like a Girl is an Australian organisation with the goal to reimagine the future for girls and women in the technology industry.

"The workshops at flagship Microsoft Store Sydney will be conducted by instructors with practical experience in the field, giving girls the opportunity to get hands on with technology, learning an array of skills from how to build websites, to how to create digital art and games, all using coding techniques and programs."

Jessica Erhart, community development specialist at the flagship Microsoft Store Sydney, said: “By providing young girls an opportunity to develop an active interest in coding, we can help deliver real impact to the future of the Australian technology industry.

"We see from our customers every day that there is a strong desire from girls to learn how to code and Microsoft Store is committed to creating an innovative learning environment where every young girl from any background, feels included, inspired, supported and empowered.”

Key details for the Code Like a Girl workshops below:

  • When: Monday 9 July to Sunday 15 July at various times throughout each day.
  • Where: Flagship Microsoft Store Sydney (Pitt St Mall, 188 Pitt St, Sydney).
  • Duration: The workshops run for 2½ hours.
  • Recommended age: Varies per workshop type, approx. 6-15 years old
  • Skill level: beginners no prior learning needed 

Workshop types:

  1. Design and build a website: This workshop will cover how to create and edit your own website from start to finish including HTML coding and styling using CSS3.
  2. Girls and games: in this, beginner coding tutorial participants will learn how to create their own personalised game from scratch.
  3. Coding up a storm: in this workshop, participants will mix playing with learning and use Lego Mindstorms to learn core computational logic and concept.
  4. Creative coding: This workshop will allow participants to draw and decorate their own digital art using data structures, selections and loops.

Code Like a Girl chief executive and co-founder, Ally Watson commented on the workshops stating, “It’s great to see a retailer like Microsoft Store supporting young girls as these type of opportunities aren’t regularly offered for free.

"It’s important that brands like Microsoft actively support the education of young girls in STEM, as it gives the next generation a chance to experience the amazing world of coding and tech.”

So, whether you are a whizz kid with technology, a complete novice, or you’re just interested in learning more about coding, Code Like a Girl workshops are "a great way to meet likeminded girls, learn from some leading industry talent and have fun."

You can register to go along to the Code Like a Girl workshops here, but my guess is that you'd better do so fast.

For more information and to check out the latest events at the flagship Microsoft Store in Sydney, please see the events page on the Australian Microsoft Store website

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One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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