Women comprise 47 percent of the workforce, yet only 39 percent of chemists and material scientists, 28 percent of environmental scientists and geoscientists, 16 percent of chemical engineers and just 12 percent of civil engineers are female. Keep this in mind as you walk into Bruininks Hall at the University of Minnesota and into the classroom of Girls Who Code Minneapolis (GWC), an organization working to change these statistics.
The first time I attended a GWC course, I was nervous. I had little experience coding and I knew almost no one in the room. I had no idea what I was getting myself into for the next six months. But after walking into the classroom and seeing a diverse, excited group of girls, I was quickly put to ease. We spanned in age from 11 to 18 years old. We came from the city centers and the suburbs.
At our second session, we began discussing in groups our ideas for our final project, using all of the coding skills we would learn.
None of us suggested creating video games; our ideas were about changing the world. They included an app to help disabled people connect, a program that would bring together budding musicians trying to start a band and a website that would provide support to people dealing with depression.
Our ultimate project was an app that would help refugees and immigrants assimilate into the U.S. health-care system – from planning doctor appointments to keeping healthy.
First, we needed to learn how to code.
Each weekly session began with a female guest speaker in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) workforce, opening us up to what daily life is like being a woman in these fields.
Girls Who Code opened up a new world of careers and paths for me. It changed my view of technology from something that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs created to something that I can use to change the world around me. The confidence that GWC gave me is something I am grateful for, and I have an immense sense of pride that I am working toward bridging the gender gap in STEM fields. [[In-content Ad]]
Daisy Forester lives in Uptown, Minneapolis. She is finishing eighth grade at Barton Open School and plans on attending Minneapolis Southwest High next year.
Editor’s Note: The Girls Who Code final project developed a mobile app for Lutheran Social Services and the Minnesota Department of Health and Refugee services. The app connects refugees in Minnesota with the Refugee Health Orientation Tool Kit. tinyurl.com/MWP-GWC-app The “RefugeMN” mobile app is available in the Google Play store.