Change: Gender Equality in TechEd
How do we create a more inclusive and diverse tech industry for a future that will be heavily tech-focused? We get Samantha Floreani from Code Like A Girl to explain the importance of gender equality in tech education, and how we can make sure women and girls aren’t left behind in the changing face of work.
Program Director, Code like a Girl
Location: Melbourne Australia
WHO IS SAMANTHA? Samantha Floreani the Program Director for Code Like a Girl. She shares with us the organisation’s vision in creating a more inclusive and diverse tech education environment for women and girls, so they can pave the way for an equal future in technology and ICT industries.
WHY CODE LIKE A GIRL? Founded in 2015 by Ally Watson out of a desire to meet other women who code, Code Like a Girl is a social enterprise providing women and girls with the confidence, tools, knowledge and support to enter and flourish in the world of coding. On the education front, Code Like a Girl is on a mission not just to equip girls with the necessary tech skills, but also inspire them to pursue careers in coding and tech industries.
While the global demand for technologists increases, female enrolments in IT degrees have been decreasing. Code Like a Girl is aiming to liberate the talents of women and girls from all backgrounds, to ensure they can become equal creators in building the future.
Code Like a Girl runs Coding Camps for girls as young as 8 to not only teach them technical skills, but to create a unique learning environment where participants get to experience the fun and creativity of coding, make friends, and feel inspired by passionate role models – because if you can see it, you can be it. Code Like a Girl also hosts regular local community events where tech-savvy women have a chance to network, share knowledge and connect, as well as an internship program to assist women on their journey into tech by placing them directly into technical roles.
“If I could change one thing in education, it would be the way we teach coding and tech skills, particularly how we engage young girls in tech, to create a more inclusive and diverse tech industry.
At Code Like a Girl we get asked “why tech” quite a lot. I would say that there are two main prongs to the reason why inclusive tech education is so important:
- First, women and girls are currently at severe risk of being left out of one of the greatest wealth creators of our time.
- We know that tech is disrupting the status quo and changing the future of work
- The Australian market demand for technologists is expected to be over 700,000 by the year 2020 (that’s next year!)
- It is predicted that 75% of all future jobs will require some element of STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
- If you marry this with the affects of automation – we’re expecting 40% of existing jobs to become obsolete in the next 10-15 years. And which jobs are these? Generally they are the more routine jobs such as bookkeeping, secretaries, customer service roles, administration… which are generally female-dominated areas.
As it currently stands, women represent about 20% of the ICT workforce in Australia, and the rate of women enrolling into IT degrees is actually decreasing – over the past 15 years it’s gone from from 25% to only 16%.
So while all of these amazing opportunities are being created, women do not currently have the required skills to benefit from this disruption. Scary statistics come up around this such as that women face approximately 5 jobs lost for every job gained. That’s massive! We are in real danger of reversing a lot of progress we’ve made towards gender equality if women are not in a position to have the same kind of economic freedom as their male counterparts due to not having the same kinds of job opportunities.
Coding could be an equaliser for humanity; it’s more important than ever that girls, of all backgrounds, have access to educational opportunities in technology.
And for those out here who want to talk economics – it’s estimated that increasing the number of women in tech leadership positions would result in 10.8 BILLION dollars increase to the Australian economy… per year!
The second prong is that technology is increasingly part of our everyday lives – almost everyone interacts with technology on some level. We use it for work, health, access to services, downtime, relationships… and technology isn’t going away. We know that technology is a big part of building the world of the future. So, if that world is being built under the leadership of a single gender, what does that mean for this future world? We’re missing so many other experiences and perspectives. If we want tech that serves our interests – and by that I mean everyone’s interests – then we need more diverse minds building the tools of tomorrow.
How does this relate back to education?
A lot of this starts at a really young age- so education plays a really big role. The way we currently teach tech and coding in schools is not yet solving the problem of getting more girls into tech pathways. It’s not enough to just have tech as part of the curriculum, we need to be thinking about how we’re delivering tech education and what messages we’re sending to young people not just about technology, but also about gender.
We’ve spoken to a lot of teachers around Victoria, who are the frontline of delivering the digitech curriculum, and we know there remain many barriers to creating the kind of inclusive tech education that we need to solve this problem. That’s why at Code Like a Girl we’re working hard to liberate the talents of women and girls, to be equal creators in building the future.”