How a Club is Closing the Gender Gap in Coding

2 minute read

Written by: Shalom Albi - Girls Who Code participant (2020)

In a group of people, women are 75% less likely to speak up than a male group member. Because chances are their ideas will get rejected or gaslit by their male peers. Now imagine how much lower that percentage is in a STEM field that’s highly male-dominated. Yet, while the demand for computer science workers is increasing, the representation of women in this field has been declining for 30 years. This is where Girls Who Code (GWC) steps in. An organization that grows young female identifying students to join the coding field. Every session the group aims to close the gender ratio gap little by little.

I applied for the GWC program in September of 2020 and was enrolled for the fall session by October. Although I have a family member whose career is in computer science, sadly, immense Python and programming skills aren’t genetically passed down. We started the GWC program by breaking up the four fundamentals of coding. Variables, conditionals, dictionaries, and loops. To implement these basics we chose groups based on our interests — music, memes and books. I chose to join the music group where we wrote a code that can recommend new music based on your favorite genre and also introduce you to go beyond your regular taste in music. We wanted to write an interactive code that can keep people communicative and creative in these unprecedented times.

Everyone in the session got along very well. It was reassuring to see so many people that looked like me who also had similar interests. Some of us wanted to pursue a career in computer science, some of us wanted to learn computational biology and some of us had no specific interest in coding, but there was one similarity in all three groups — we all wanted to learn. Even though we were all there for different reasons and learning at different paces, GWC did a fantastic job of making sure everyone thoroughly understood our weekly concepts.

We met every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for three months so it was almost impossible to not miss one here and there. Hence we all kept each other in the loop by communicating on Slack, we would often send our updated code and encouraged each other to catch up. One of the things I enjoyed from our meetings was our “Stand Up” session where we would shout out a member and give them the recognition they deserve. Small efforts like those have helped break the ice among my fellow peers. Not only does it positively impact the participants it also encourages others to notice and value everyone’s contribution. That’s how Girls Who Code introduces young female-identifying students to coding. By creating a safe and welcoming space for girls to code together they are actively closing the gender gap from session to session.