In the dynamic world of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers, a substantial gender gap persists in the EU.
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Recent statistics reveal that only about 19% of ICT specialists across the continent are women, with just one-third of STEM graduates being female. Gender bias may contribute to this disparity.
It’s with this goal in mind that Meet and Code strives to address the digital gap across Europe, with a particular emphasis on reaching underserved and underrepresented youth, including girls. We take pride in the fact that approximately half of our event participants have been girls over the years, with 41% attending in 2023 alone. Beyond just numbers, the impact is palpable. For instance, after last year’s edition, a participant from Austria remarked, “I wouldn’t have thought that programming was so easy. Girls can do it too. Can we do this every day?”
In honour of the UN’s International Day of Girls and Women in Science, we’re spotlighting past Meet and Code events to inspire you to plan your events encouraging girls to improve their digital skills and know that there is a seat for them at the table in the world of STEM.
Improving Girls’ Confidence with Computing
In 2023, the Colerne C E Primary School Parent Teacher Association in the UK hosted a Computing Club exclusively for girls. The aim was to nurture their self-efficacy, igniting a passion for computing while fostering self-confidence and belief. The program consisted of onsite weekly 45-minute after-school club sessions spanning 14 weeks, tailored for girls aged between 7 and 11, focusing on coding and application through microbits.
In addition to its focus on girls, the program sought to enhance team-building, communication skills, and problem-solving abilities, vital for its transient population predominantly composed of military families.
To celebrate the girls' accomplishments in these sessions, their work was showcased during Christmas, with invitations extended to peers, teachers, families, and governors.
Bringing Global Fashion Practices to a Local Community in Ireland
In 2022, Teen Turn in Ireland hosted an event titled Is Your Fashion Universal? aimed to provide teen girls, particularly those from underserved areas, the opportunity to gain hands-on STEM experience and visualise themselves in the world of design through tech. There were 33 participants aged 14 - 16 who attended and were interested in technology, universal design thinking, and the roles they both play in fashion design for all.
Using both pen and paper, CAD design software (Autodesk and Tinkercad which are free to use) and SketchUp, the girls were tasked to design a tracksuit for the Irish women's national soccer and paralympic soccer teams. The event also taught the learners about the use of laser cutters and 3D printing as tools to enhance accuracy and efficiency in the fashion industry.
Taking Girls Who Code from Fantasy to Reality
In 2021, SORORA E.V. from Germany hosted an event titled No More Fairy Tales: Video Game Workshop, Rebel Narrative, and Coding for Girls. The theme aimed to strengthen women’s self-confidence and resilience, using a feminist approach. Not only were the girls taught coding, but they learned about storytelling and teamwork.
This coding workshop took its participants on a fantastic journey of unlimited adventure through cyberspace. No legendary knights were, however, required to save the female protagonist here, and no previous knowledge of programming was needed either. Through an introduction to creative storytelling and video gaming, migrant girls aged 14 - 24 learned basic tools for publishing an interactive story in HTML.
As a civil society initiative, our commitment to digital education through collaboration and inclusivity in creating a diverse and skilled tech workforce is paramount. With Amazon's support, we stand at the forefront of this transformative journey, fostering a generation of tech leaders irrespective of gender or background.
If you are interested in hosting an event this year aimed at improving girls’ digital skills, have a look at our past stories for some ideas: https://meet-and-code.org/gb/en/stories