Inspiring a New Generation of Women Computer Programmers in Austere Environments (Grand Ballroom ABC)
Women in the United States are a minority when it comes to competing in the STEM fields. They are seldom seen as leading technical developers and programmers. The environment is changing: education systems, government, non-profit institutions, and marketing schemes have identified this gender gap. In contrast, the development and support for building programming and coding skills are nearly neglected in developing countries. The key to closing this gap lies in creating leaders who are bridge builders.
Our team has been striving to close this gap one step at a time. The mission is to create a foundation, a network of resources, and a community for women to build technical skills. Currently, we are building a team of female coders in Accra, Ghana, through our Maiden Events program, and creating a safe space for women to enhance their programming skills, collaborate on projects, and build lasting friendships.
Developing programming skills among women in difficult environments will equip them to thrive in a highly competitive market. In turn, the women will be able to code applications, including ones tailored to serve their local community needs. New skill sets and leadership qualities will create female leaders, leading to an improvement in their quality of life.
The mesh of a boots-on-the-ground model in Ghana and insights gained from training female coders in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Haiti points to a new path. The results of those experiences indicate an environment ripe for programming development, but with little resources to foster the advancement of this skill set.
The model developed and lessons learned in Ghana and elsewhere can be applied to many countries. The women have an inspiring and successful story to tell.