Today, NewTechKids welcomed a brave little girl to our latest after-school bootcamp.
Before she arrived, a large group of boys ranging from seven to nine bounded into the class, swapping stories about building LEGO, playing football and the mutual friends they all knew.
When she peeked into the class, she realised that she was the only girl in a sea of boys. Our assistant teacher, who is female, tried to reassure her but the girl begged her mother to sit at the back of the class (which was alright with us).
Pretty soon, the girl forgot that her mother was even there. She was so mesmerised by the teacher’s demo of visual programming and LEGO Mindstorms that she didn’t even notice her mother slip out. When the time came for the kids to form teams and design a robotic vehicle, her intimidation was long gone.
During the end-of-class presentation, she proudly showed her team’s creation and talked about her contribution to the group. As she left with her mother, she enthusiastically cried “See you next week.”
Folks, we need to help girls fall in love with computer science and technology education, beginning in primary school and extending up until university and the workforce. We need to make girls 50% of the students in these classes. In the meantime, even if they are a distinct minority, we need to empower girls like this one to not only be comfortable in classes where boys are the majority but to also thrive there.
And to parents, schools and teachers who hesitate or decide not to enrol girls in computer science, coding and technology classes: don’t make this mistake. Let them try them. Encourage them to come with their friends or alone. You’ll be giving them an important gift that most schools can’t: computational thinking and a foundation to understand how technology works.