There’s no doubt that technology is changing the way our kids grow up. While some subscribe to the theory that technology is something to be greeted with suspicion, I would rather provide my girls with the awareness, knowledge and tools to embrace this massive change in our society.
The way I see it, mobile is just the television, radio or printing press of our generation. It’s a medium, the message is what we all create on it.
The big difference is how that message is crafted, and for the generations of students, artists, workers, and intellectuals to come the language of that message is code.
On November 7, Canada will celebrate National Girls Learning Code Day. This cross-country event will see more than 1000 girls aged eight to 13 participate in workshops in 28 cities across the country. National Girls Learning Code Day is sponsored by Google and represents a critical gap in the learning environment today, not just for girls, but for all kids.
An important step we need to overcome as parents is moving past the idea that coding is for engineers. We have a tendency with technology to take our first impressions and make them our only point of reference. Much like many still think video games are for kids (the average gamer is actually 31 years old and 48 per cent are women), we also have a tendency to think of coders as t-shirt wearing geeks with a penchant for burritos.
The fact is that code is now just shorthand for a language that combines logic and syntax to create, well, anything. Code can create programs and apps but it can also create art, music, and so much more.
And it’s the agnostic properties of coding that should be celebrated. Too often the focus when it comes to getting girls interested in science, technology, engineering and math is the idea of making things gender neutral, to eliminate differences. The idea is that to play with the boys toys you have to, well, look and act like a boy.
In my view, the goal should not be to tell girls they can’t like the colour pink, frilly dresses, and long hair and still be an engineer, it’s to let them know that code doesn’t care what you make with it. Just like we can use the English language to create an instruction manual or a literary classic, code is just a tool, it’s not masculine or feminine, it’s whatever you want it to be.
Too often we focus on what toys are pink and which are blue, the great thing about learning to code is it can be either and be just as powerful.