All our lives are touched by developments driven by technology and industries such as communication, scientific research, education, healthcare, commerce, and entertainment, among many others, have been revolutionised by advances in Computer Science. In this article, we explore how our school has adapted to the growing need for Computer Science education in today’s digital society.
While considered to be a male-dominated arena, increasing numbers of women and girls are becoming interested in and pursuing careers in Computer Science. We at BSB recognise the need to encourage the involvement of our female students in this discipline and promote the contributions of women in this field.
The recent International Girls in ICT Day gave us an opportunity to celebrate all our female students who have become involved in computer science. Through various clubs, lessons, and the Coding for Girls initiative, we promote and celebrate female trailblazers and use them as positive role models to fire our students’ imaginations and do our bit to close the gender gap in computing. As a result of our encouragement and guidance, more girls than ever are taking up computer science courses at BSB!
At BSB, the Computer Science Department have implemented several initiatives to encourage girls to take computer science courses at GCSE and A-level/IB. To further inspire girls, we acknowledge the contribution of women to the field of computer science regularly in class. We also have a computer science hero display in M104. The wall displays a diverse group of inspirational people who contributed to the field, many of which are women, such as:
In class, we regularly organise lessons and units where girls get hands-on experience with coding. Year 9 girls are currently coding an embedded microchip. This lesson allowed girls to apply their programming skills in a new engaging context: physical computing using the BBC micro:bit.
The micro:bit is a pocket-sized computer that students can code, customise and control to bring their digital ideas to life. This allows students to apply their coding skills to make something physical that interacts with “the world outside their computer” using sensors and motors.
Before this lesson, students had already become familiar with the micro:bit’s various components, such as sensors and motors, and had written simple programs that use these components to interact with the physical world. The students built on their Python programming skills from Year 8 and Year 9 to complete this project.
During the lesson, the girls are working on their physical computing project. They designed a project and are now in the process of writing and testing the code.
In addition, last year’s subject captain, Yuma, has organised a Girls in Coding club with various engaging sessions throughout the year to empower girls to learn more about computer science at BSB. This club provides a space for girls to learn and explore coding in a fun and supportive environment.
The current subject captain, Jeanne, is also a girl, and serves as an inspiration for other girls interested in pursuing computer science. By having female role models, girls are more likely to see themselves in the field and be encouraged to pursue it.
“I’ve grown up with the Internet and have realised how important and present ICT is in every area in the world,” said Jeanne. “There is a role for computer science in humanities, sciences, and politics, among other areas.”
“Having this toolbox and being able to approach problem solving in this unique way and have advanced ways of thinking about problems can change society and create fresh solutions we have not seen before. I don’t think this is a skill that you can do without in today’s world.”
When asked what she though the biggest challenges for girls who are interested in pursuing computer science courses or careers were, Jeanne answered: “I have been quite lucky; I am part of a newer generation where the prejudice of girls in computer science is less prominent than in the past. I am aware that it is still a male-dominated field, and that this can create barriers, or girls might not feel comfortable in that space. For the younger generation, many people don’t see it as a problem.”
“Personally, I have not encountered any doubt, and the fact that I’m the only girl has not affected how I view and act in a computer science lesson. How boys and men treat girls in computer science space has the biggest impact on making sure we are comfortable.”
When it comes to advice to other girls who are interested in pursuing a career in ICT, Jeanne said that it was important not to view yourself as a girl in ICT because that comes with stereotypes and negative limitations. “Put yourself on the same level as everyone else,” she said. “I am a person that is interested in computer science, that wants to learn how to code, and how hardware works. People can no longer dismiss you. You cannot just be treated differently or ignored because of your gender. Do not think there are limitations because you are a girl. Just approach it like everyone else would.”
“Computer science is important and powerful,” she added. “Even though it might not seem naturally appealing to some girls, you should really think about it. Computer Science is our revolution, just like the industry revolution years ago, and everything important that will change in society will come from developments in computer science. If you choose to be knowledgeable about that, you can change the world! I do not think this is an exaggeration. You can do so many things with computer science that previous generations were not able to do. When you choose a subject, I think you should seriously consider computer science and its inestimable worth.”
Overall, initiatives like the Girls in Coding club and the International Girls in ICT Day help to empower girls in computer science at BSB. By having female role models, girls are more likely to see themselves in the field and be encouraged to pursue it. The Computer Science Department’s efforts to promote and celebrate the contributions of women in computer science is a step towards closing the gender gap in ICT.
Get in touch with us today to explore further information about our school’s comprehensive ICT programme.