The Observatory

by Codeverse

5 Ways to Empower Girls to Code Now

Girl coding on iPad at summer camp

3 min read

Plenty of folks have pointed out the disparities in girls’ involvement in STEM. Women earn over 50% of all bachelor’s degrees in the US, yet less than 20% of degrees in computer sciences and engineering. Women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but less than 30% of the science and engineering workforce. Some folks have inched us closer to identifying root causes of the disparity. Codeverse is building on all that by taking concrete steps to ensure girls reach for the stars when they code.

1. Encourage girls to speak up, and in more than one way.

Boys raise their voices and speak up with teachers more. Girls hesitate to do the same in a traditional classroom setting. Teachers end up paying disproportionately more attention to the boys.

The Codeverse studio experience is designed so that kids don’t need to compete for instructor attention. Our platform allows kids to virtually “raise their hand” no matter where they are in the studio, a feature that helps level the playing field. Instructors can also decipher who needs attention even if they aren’t saying so by monitoring the status of kids’ individual iPad activity.

We also want every kid to have a chance to share out their voice! We’ve intentionally created structured opportunities for kids to show-and-tell with their projects, a practice that ensures everyone has a turn to present. We make sure opportunities to speak in front of a whole group seem exciting and rewarding. We also share in buddy pairs or small groups to encourage a more engaging, relationship-building experience with other kids and instructors.

2. Recognize girls for their contributions, not just “good” behavior.

How have we continued to cultivate the idea that girls should be “nice”? Teachers more often recognize girls for compliance (being “good”) than for content knowledge, consciously or not. This certainly doesn’t give girls the impression that they are valued for being smart!

Instructors need to develop awareness of this type of bias, then they can begin to change their own behavior. Our crew of instructors is on the watch to praise girls who took risks in their coding projects, tried a new concept, or turned an unintended action into a great feature! We are ultimately invested in every kid’s contributions because we love inspiring kids to create.

3. Make girls feel like they’re part of the “in-group” through both non-verbal and verbal cues.

Every day girls receive cues, some more visible than others, that they are not part of an “in-group” that will excel in engineering or tech-related roles.

We wanted to make sure girls can feel like they’re part of the “in-group”. So, Codeverse instructors participate in interpersonal skills training which complements social/emotional learning. As part of this training they learn how to use body mimicry and specific verbal phrases in interactions with kids in order to develop an “in-group” mindset. Kids don’t even notice that it’s happening!

4. Be role models and allies for girls.

It’s not easy to keep at something when you see fewer and fewer peers and leaders who look like you as you grow up.

Having role models that we relate to is crucial! We have a fantastic team of Codeverse women who embody a learning mindset and a passion for technology as well as fantastic Codeverse men who own that they too have a key role in making our girls successful.

We have plenty of Codeverse girls who agree:

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana - Brownies and Juniors at Codeverse

5. Empower girls to stake their claim in the virtual world.

Boys currently use the internet and play collaborative games more than girls. However, the vast majority are consumers, not creators, of virtual worlds.

When we help girls learn to create their own games, stories, and virtual content, we are empowering them to construct a world in which their opportunities finally meet their potential.

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