“Girls Who Code” allows girls to embark on technological careers

The girls at Bearden High School have an edge in preparing for careers in computers and information technology – a club called Girls Who Code.

When information technology (IT) teacher Amy Shipley saw low numbers of girls in computer classes last year, she turned to Sarah Yeow for help. Together, they launched the Bearden Girls Who Code club (aligned with the National Girls Who Code) last spring.

Amy shipley

Today, around 16 BHS girls get together every Friday morning to complete projects in programming languages ​​like Python, Scratch, and Swift. They discover careers in technological fields and carry out service projects. Regulars include computer science students like Autumn Larmee, Aiden Smith, Laney Vogel, Mebd Glatt, and Avigail Laing, as well as students who have never taken a computer class. All girls are welcome.

Sarah Yeow is now a freshman in Information Science at the University of Tennessee.

“I really see the impact of Girls Who Code clubs because if it hadn’t been for clubs like this while I was in high school I wouldn’t be in the major that I am now,” said Yeow, who hopes to become a user. experienced designer. “He is inspired by strong pioneering women in STEM to help nurture the girls of our generation. “

Girls Who Code is a place where girls can meet others who have a common goal, Shipley said. “It helps them find coding relationships and knowledge and increase the number of girls to follow web design, coding and cybersecurity.”

A curious situation exists in the American labor market. More than 500,000 jobs in computer and computer occupations are open, with more jobs expected, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median salary for IT and computer jobs in 2020 was $ 91,250.

But the number of women in computer occupations has plunged – from 35 percent in 1991 to less than 25 percent today, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology. Only a fraction of these women are black or Latin.

Girls who code: Sophia Mossing, Samantha Sanchez, Megan Kleckley, Valerie Kinson, Stephanie Cho, Avigail Laing, Laney Vogel; (back row) Aiden Smith, Sadie Maierhofer, Piper Kelly, Kiana Toms, Autumn Larmee; (not pictured) Mebd Glatt, Sara Bailey, Priya Soneji, Adaline Armstrong and Autumn Hensley.

Bearden High School, like many schools in Knox County, has a strong computer science curriculum with a team of three teachers and courses that can lead to AP credit, national industry certifications, and double credit at the Pellissippi State Community College. But only about 18 percent of computer science students are girls, Shipley said.

What’s exciting about Girls Who Code is that it helps girls find their interest in tech. “Our goal is to close the gender gap in technology, to educate young women about what is available to them,” Shipley said.

“Girls Who Code gives girls the opportunity to learn coding even if they have no previous experience,” Yeow said.

Four other Knox County schools – L&N STEM Academy, Adrian Burnett Elementary, West Haven Elementary and Cedar Bluff Elementary – also have Girls Who Code clubs, Jasmine Floyd said., educational technology liaison for Knox County schools. She said Knox County Virtual Elementary and Farragut Intermediate were forming clubs.

Kelly Norrell is a freelance writer, communications strategist and photographer in Knoxville. She is particularly interested in issues relating to women and social justice.

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