At a recent meeting of BCSWomen, Ayrshire College vice principal Jackie Galbraith met a young web developer, Carole Rennie Logan, who works at a digital agency in Glasgow. Jackie was a developer 25 years ago and was interested to hear from Carole how things have (or haven’t) changed for women in the computing industry in a quarter of a century. Sadly, Carole confirmed that being a female developer is still a bit like being part of an endangered species!
However, Carole is determined to change this and mentors at CoderDojo computer coding clubs in Glasgow, where she makes coding skills available to people who wouldn’t usually get the chance to learn them. Carole is particularly enthusiastic about encouraging more girls into science, technology, engineering and maths.
Read what Carole has to say.
Coding has quite rightly been attracting more attention in the last few years as an essential skill in an ever more techy world. But it’s still often pitched only to people who are into science, maths and engineering – and not to creatives.
Yet, arguably, coding is becoming the essential creative skill to have.
How often do you hear “there should be an app for that” or “I have a cool idea for a website”? Most people have to leave it there as they don’t know where to start in bringing these ideas to life. With coding skills you can turn your cool idea into a reality!
When people picture a developer they often picture someone in the movies watching 1’s and 0’s fly across the screen, not a typical creative type. Being a web developer, I am guilty of describing myself as “just the developer, I didn’t do the design … I’m not that creative”.
This needs to change. Developers have the new must have creative skill – coding!
Personally, I think the most valuable skills in knowing how to code is not being expert in a specific language, but learning and having the desire to pick up new skills. You may not have experience in building a phone app or the language used for this but, if you know the concepts of programming which are usually the same across languages, you just need to learn the syntax. So, if your awesome idea needs to know a language or framework you haven’t used before, you can do some research and have a play around with it until you can build what you need.
This is why coding clubs like CoderDojo are so important as they give young people the opportunity to learn and share their ideas with other coders. One of my favourite things about being a CoderDojo mentor is seeing the ideas that people have and how they just throw themselves into coding without the fear of “what if I break it?” that sometimes we adults suffer from.
So, let’s encourage people who shy away from ‘geeky’ things in favour of more traditional arty hobbies to give programming a try – it might just be the tool to turn their vision into reality!
Want to find out about other women challenging gender imbalance in the digital world?
Loraine Johnston leads on our computing curriculum at the College and established CoderDojo Ayrshire in November 2014 in partnership with CoderDojo Scotland. Like Carole, she mentors young coders and runs coding clubs all over Ayrshire throughout the year.
Dr Claire Quigley is a Project Officer for CoderDojo Scotland at the Glasgow Science Centre, where she supports the CoderDojo network of computer coding clubs for young people across Scotland. She worked in partnership with Loraine to establish Coderdojo Ayrshire.