The team at Melbourne’s Girl Geek Academy is passionate about increasing the number of women in tech by encouraging the rise of female designers and founders and teaching young girls how to code. They’re also trying to make coding look ‘cool’ as well as being something girls of any age can do.
Girl Geek Academy CEO Sarah Moran learnt to code when she was just five years old. She told Women Love Tech she wants everyone to know that you are never too young – and never too old to learn coding.
“Yes, I was only five! When people ask me, what made me interested in technology, it’s simple: I would always look at computers and think ‘Wow!’ But it wasn’t until somebody told me that you can make the computer do what you want it to do, that I was really excited. Coding is all about problem solving,” Moran said.
Moran was pleasantly surprised when she realised the new Barbie movie – – Barbie Video Game Hero – stars a girl gamer and coder. It’s a world away from the Barbie of the 1970s and Moran said it’s a positive step forward in the plight to encourage more girls to learn coding.
“What I appreciate about the Barbie movie is it not only focuses on girl coders and gamers, it also focuses on friendship. That’s one of our core values; we do this to support each other and be great friends. So, that’s something I’ve never really seen learning to code marketed as before,” Moran said.
“What the film is saying is, if you’re a young girl, you can learn coding but you can also learn the value of friendships. For us, it’s nice that the two are tied so closely together because it’s all about celebrating the collaborative nature of coding.”
“That’s the way I find technology resonates with young girls; how to solve problems. With the movie, it’s all about Barbie having to solve problems in the game – you get to see Barbie doing coding in the same way young people learn coding. You are never too young to learn and, for young children, it’s learnt in the same way you learn to build Lego: you use little blocks and then move onto the next level.”
Moran said it’s not very difficult to get girls interested in coding, as they usually encourage girls to code as a social activity.
“Some people mistakenly think coding is a solo activity but we tend to teach it in a collaborative environment, so it becomes a fun activity everyone can enjoy.”
“Coding isn’t maths it’s a language, so if you’ve ever studied French, you can study code. It really should be thought of as an art rather than thought of as something you have natural ability in.”
Moran sees video games as a key way to capture ideas and getting us to think about how to build it.
“That’s such a core part of the process. At Girl Geek Academy, we like to talk about the hacker, hustler and hipster; that’s what you need for the core ingredients of a team. A hacker can code it, the hustler is the story teller, the hipster is the designer who gets in and makes it look attractive.”
“We need all those skills in tech, but the more technical know-how we have, the better we’re able to communicate and having all three skills is such a great foundation.”
For more information www.girlgeekacademy.com