Years ago, it was almost unheard of for young girls to study electrical engineering or computer science. Today, it’s a must. Ahead of International Women's Day (March 8), and in recognition of the United Nations International Women and Girls in Science Day (February 11), Vodafone will be providing free coding classes for 1,000 girls, across 26 countries.
The problem: While women have always played a crucial role in science, technology, engineering and maths fields (STEM), they’re still widely underrepresented. According to a UN study conducted in 14 countries, the probability of female students graduating with an advanced degree in a science-related field is 33 percent lower than their male counterparts. And according to the Unesco Institute for Statistics (UIS), less than 30 percent of the world’s researchers are women.
The approach: Hoping to reverse this disparity, Vodafone launched #CodeLikeAGirl, a free coding program for teenage girls across our Europe, India, the Middle East, South Africa and Australia. They partnered with the award-winning non-profit, Code First: Girls, which aims to bring more women in tech by running coding courses. Together, they will provide the one-week training programs from July through October 2018.
The courses are suitable for all girls of ages 14 to 18, irrespective of their previous technology skills.They will learn basic computer languages and learn development using programs like html, CSS, GitHub and Bootstrap. At the end of their training, they will have learnt enough to develop their own website.
The feel good: Over the last few years, there’s been a growing global need for technology skills. In fact, the non-profit Code.org recently estimated that 71 percent of all STEM-related jobs in the US were in computing. By 2024, 1.1 million computing-related jobs are expected to open in the US, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology. Empowering young girls to code is not only imperative, it also allows them to reimagine their future and close the gender-gap. And as we’ve seen across the country, the future really is female.