coderGirls

A Peacemaking Project by Briana B.

What is the injustice we are solving?

The gender gap in the computer science industry is extremely prominent. With my project, I aim to shows girls the beauty of computer science and how it connects to their own passions in order to help reduce the growing gender gap. My project, coderGirls, is an international nonprofit organization to educate and empower female K-12 students in computer science. Since the beginning, I have implemented chapters and curriculum with 85 Girl Scout councils and over 350 schools to impact over 500,000 girls. In doing so, coderGirls wants to create an impact, so the main focus is for our chapters to connect computer science to doing community outreach and their passions. We have over 36 chapters in over 7 countries, such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Ukraine, Philippines, and in various states to educate in our curriculum of Python With EarSketch to Make Music, MITAppInventor to Create Apps, JavaScript to Animate, Scratch to Draw & Animate, HTML & CSS to Make A Website, and C++ For Hardware Coding. Then, we are partnered with White House’s CSForAll, National Center for Women and Information Technology, Let’s Start Coding, and more. With our partners, there is an impact on 900 organizations, on 30 states, and with the potential to impact of 100% of U.S. girls. At the moment, we are working with the National Girl Scouts of America for our courses to be used in their computer science curriculum and to create a coding badge. Our efforts together has a potential impact on 2.7 million girls.

Our Compassionate Solution:

To solve this injustice of the gender gap in computer science
we will address the social stigma
by educating and empowering girls in coding through courses that not only teach girls how to code, but also connect code to their passions, such as art or music.

Our Project Plan:

Goals

  • Fund a girl to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration

We will increase my / our compassion by...

by enabling a girl to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration, a large conference of women technologists that will occur through Sep. 26–28 in Houston, TX this year. The reason behind doing so is that a majority of Grace Hopper scholarships are specifically for college students and not high schoolers; meanwhile, a large number of girls in high school want to go to get immersed in a supportive environment and see where their future can go.

How will you show courage?

My own love for computer science was foreign to my family and to societal expectations. I had to research countless tutorials and books to learn. I was on my own in a world of new syntax rules and infinitely many unknowns. Standing in my own footsteps, I knew that many girls weren’t interested in coding. With that in mind, I aimed to get more girls involved. To achieve my goal, I started coderGirls as a local initiative to show girls the beauty of computer science while connecting code to their passions, such as music or animations. I remember anxiously waiting for our first meeting, and all I could think was: will any girls come? Thankfully, girls began to pile in, and within minutes, I could hear the girls typing away on their keyboard. My favorite moment was when one girl finally debugged her code. She immediately jumped in her seat and the excitement on her face kept me going. With experiences like that, it made me realize it doesn't matter how many girls I impact as long as I make a meaningful impact. With that in mind, coderGirls began to expand from statewide to nationwide to international. However, for me, it shows that all it takes to create something is an idea with a little bit of faith, trust, and code. Thus, with the scholarship, it will allow more girls to experience computer science and for me to expand coderGirls' impact.

How will you collaborate with others?

With such a large organization, I am collaborating with others. On a daily basis, I work with my directors on running the organization & chapters, ask my advisors for plan ideas, and I'm consistently outreaching to other organizations to partner, such as how we are working with the White House's CSForAll and with the Girl Scouts of America, we are helping them form their computer science curriculum as well as a coding badge. With the scholarship, we would release a comprehensive application for high school girls asking for essays, their resume, and a teacher recommendation. The deadline for the application would be in late May/early June. Then, we would conduct a virtual Skype/Google Hangout interview with the girl to answer some questions and to get a feel for her personality and passion for technology. Then, we would choose a girl by late June/early July, and email her soon after with the details of the scholarship, such as how she will get the funds, contracts (ensuring she attends, photo permission, etc.). As far as distributing the funds, we will have her register, and then reimburse her with the $450 once she sends the confirmation receipt. All of these steps will require my executive team to help me advertise, choose students, and interview candidates.

How will you know you are moving in the right direction? (What are specific ways you can measure your impact?)

If all my steps are achieved, I know I'm moving in the right direction.

Key Steps

  • Gather the funds for it
  • Release a comprehensive application for high school girls asking for essays, their resume, and a teacher recommendation. The deadline for the application would be in late May/early June.
  • Conduct a virtual Skype/Google Hangout interview with the girl to answer some questions and to get a feel for her personality and passion for technology.
  • hen, we would choose a girl by late June/early July, and email her soon after with the details of the scholarship, such as how she will get the funds, contracts (ensuring she attends, photo permission, etc.).
  • As far as distributing the funds, we will have her register, and then reimburse her with the $450 once she sends the confirmation receipt.

Comments:

Adrian B.
12 February 2018 15:41

Hi Briana,

Thanks so much for posting this project! As part of the process of completing peacemaking projects, Peace First staff give formal feedback on important steps of your project. One of those steps is the compassionate insight.

I love the insight that you have here, and the project ideas you have! Your insight is almost ready to go--I would just ask you to be a bit more specific around what you are referring to by "social stigma." I think we both generally know what you mean, but being specific in your insight can help the rest of your project and can clarify your thoughts.

A/gender equality in STEM is a deeply important issue. One of the causes of this lack of representation can definitely be stigma, and the courses you're offering help give girls tools, community, and support to pursue STEM. I'm so grateful that you're doing this work.

I'm curious about your thoughts on other inclusion issues in STEM. People of color, non-binary people, transgender people, disabled people, undocumented people, and other marginalized communities are also excluded from STEM fields at very high rates. Do you have ideas about ways your programming can support these communities as well, or how, within the group you offer these programs to, you can make sure to be inclusive of these experiences, too? I'm especially curious about whether bigender, multigender, or genderfluid people who are girls at least some of the time are included in your programming, how trans girls can be sure they are welcome in this space, and how you think about non-binary and trans women's inclusion more generally when discussing a/gender based oppression in STEM. There are some great organizations doing work around some of these communities' access to STEM! Here are a few organizations and readings:

http://www.transhack.org/
https://guides.tricolib.brynmawr.edu/STEM
https://www.xojane.com/issues/disabled-people-in-science-technology-math-engineering-fields
http://www.matthewrcover.com/undocumented-in-stem
https://phys.org/news/2018-01-women-men-stem-odds-workplace.html

In addition to stigma, I've heard a lot of women and girls in STEM discuss sexual harassment and discrimination as something that drives them out of the field, sometimes even after post-graduate study. Here are some articles I found about this--I'd love to know your thoughts on these kinds of issues!

https://www.seeker.com/culture/women-report-high-levels-of-gender-discrimination-in-stem-fields
https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/07/how-women-are-harassed-out-of-science/492521/
http://girltalkhq.com/should-womengirls-in-stem-gender-equality-initiatives-be-addressing-sexual-harassment-issues/
https://www.statnews.com/2017/11/08/metoo-stem-gender-bias/
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/confronting-sexual-harassment-in-science/

What do you think about this issue? Do you think there are additional reasons that there are barriers for people who are oppressed due to a/gender and trying to access STEM fields? It can be helpful to talk to people who experience this injustice, people who cause this injustice, and people who are already working to solve this injustice. While your insight is clear and logical as it stands, I would encourage you to do interviews with each of those groups--it will enrich your project in lots of ways! Here are some resources on how to do that: https://www.peacefirst.org/understand-through-compassion

Given that you've already been doing this work for a long time, I imagine you have lots of ideas on this issue yourself! I'm excited to learn more from your experience and expertise.

Thanks again, and I'm excited to see where this project goes!

Best,
Adrian  

Fish S.
10 January 2018 12:21

Briana, thanks for posting this project! It's so important that we take action to fix the gender gap in tech, and this sounds like empowering work.

Sounds like your work is really wide-spread and affecting tons of girls! What can we do to help you take your work to the next level? What are your plans for the coming months?