Girls Who Code Teaches That Computer Skills Aren’t Just For Boys

By Katie Gillespie
The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) This is the first year for the Vancouver chapter of “Girls Who Code.” The national organization’s mission is to provide computer science instruction to young women and girls through clubs, classes and online programs.

The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash.

It’s evening at the Vancouver Community Library, and one wall of the computer classroom is laden with sticky notes.

Some feature ideas for websites that would teach girls how to code. Others, video games featuring female characters. Some just have the names of television shows, movies or concepts. “Escape room.” “Bob’s Burgers.” “Murder mystery.”

It’s that last one that piques the room’s interest; a room full of middle- and high-school girls, all of whom submitted their own ideas to the wall, at the library’s Girls Who Code club.

This is the first year for the local chapter of the national organization, whose mission is to provide computer science instruction to young women and girls through clubs, classes and online programs.

The girls, who meet once a week on Wednesdays, will over the next 14 weeks develop a virtual murder mystery using a variety of code and programming skills.

It could be an application. It could be a website. It could be a game. The final product — and the skills they learn to build it — is up to them.

Regina McMenomy, an English instructor at Washington State University Vancouver, is facilitating the program.

McMenomy isn’t a coder herself. That’s part of the point of Girls Who Code, she said. She’ll be learning along with the group how to write computer-generated music, develop games or design websites. It all depends on their interests.

“The agency is entirely theirs,” she said.

Emma Anderson, 12, and Ivy Isch, 11, are friends who attend Discovery Middle School. The pair huddled around a computer, experimenting with EarSketch, a program that teaches Python and JavaScript through the creation of music.
Emma enjoys learning code in a room of all girls, she said. It’s important that girls don’t “grow up thinking only guys can do” programming.

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