CODING as the new second language, not a math or science, is one way the recently launched Melbourne initiative Code Like A Girl thinks the skill should be framed to attract more women.
The initiative is working to inspire and support women in code, with the first event discussing topics including solutions to the ongoing digital gender divide and what the future should look like.
Research indicates the sector is heading towards a skills crisis where in 2020 there will be 1 million more jobs than there are people with the skills to fill those jobs.
A number of talking points evolved at the Code Like A Girl launch, from a panel led by founder Ally Watson (pictured left) from digital agency Deepend and hosted by Deepend managing director Kath Blackham (pictured below right).
The panel also comprised of director IGDA Melbourne Chapter Giselle Rosman, Culture Amp development team lead Jo Cranford, Envato senior developer Shevaun Coker and RMIT Society for Women in Information Technology vice president Johana Foster.
Stop the negative self-talk
Women are naturally better networkers but are often let down by their tendency to talk themselves down.
Directing her advice at female students and women in junior digital roles in particular, Giselle Rosman says it's important to showcase your work in whatever way possible.
"You need to remember you're good at what you do and you deserve to be here," says Rosman.
"You don't have to be paid or employed to build something. You can get the experience needed to apply for jobs by making, building and publishing yourself."
Don't discount your peers
Much has been discussed about the benefits of diversity in senior leadership positions, however, discussion rarely cuts through in such a matter-of-fact way.
The panel discussed how 1 per cent of women at the top aren't going to have all the answers to begin with, so rather than trying to draw solutions out of them alone, the entire industry needs to work together.
Men and women alike will come up with sound solutions.
Coding is the new second language
Johana Foster says change must stem from learning environments, not the office, and this can only beginning with revising the curriculum.
Foster says code classes should run at primary school level for all students.
As coding cuts into more and more industries, across all different cultures, it should be viewed as a skill of the humanities kind.
"Code is not maths, code is not science, code is a language - one that is universal," she says.
"Framing coding as a language can help the barriers for girls who think they're not good at maths or science."
Coding is one of the most important skills of the 21st century and there is a significant talent drought, the industry needs more computer scientists.
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