I think one of the most amazing photos I’ve seen is the 1969 picture of software engineer, Margaret Hamilton, who led the NASA software team to land Apollo 11 on the moon, posing with the stack of books that were the guidance software that it took to get man to the moon. The stack is as tall as she is! Ms. Hamilton was a pioneer of software engineering.
The 2016 Oscar-nominated movie, Hidden Figures tells the story of three African-American women, including mathematician Katherine Johnson, who were also on the forefront of the mathematics and science that were essential for putting humankind in space.
These stories and many others about women in math and science are beginning to surface after years buried in obscurity, and the world is finally learning of the women who helped shape history.
Each year, thousands of jobs open up for people with computer science degrees and coding backgrounds, but there are never enough skilled applicants to meet demand. According to a 2018 article, by Small Business Trends, only 20% of tech jobs are held by women, while over 600,000 tech jobs went unfilled. According to girlswhocode.com, only one in five computer science graduates are women. The world is waiting for women like Ms. Hamilton and Ms. Johnson to fill these jobs and lead us into the next stage of wonders.
How can we encourage girls to learn coding and that computer science is as just as much for women as men? Girls who go through some kind of STEM or coding program as youth are more likely to pick a computer-related degree in college. In a desire to empower school-aged girls and introduce them to coding, the North Channel Branch Library has partnered with Girls Who Code to start its own coding club just for girls.
The girls have enjoyed the activities where they learn important vocabulary related to coding, watch videos about the ways girls and women use coding every day to do cool things, and learn basic coding with simple free online coding games like Blockly Games, Scratch, and Code Combat.
Coding is available for everyone and there are many fun online games and activities that can teach anyone to code. You can practice your coding at any of your local libraries. Give coding a try and learn something amazing.
For some fun books on girls, coding and computer science, check out:
Girls who code: learn to code and change the world. By Reshma Saujani
Margaret and the Moon: how Margaret Hamilton saved the first Lunar Landing. By Dean Robbins; illustrated by Lucy Knisley
Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13. By Helaine Becker; Illustrated by Dow Phumiruk.
The Friendship Code by Stacia Deutsch
Technology: Cool Women Who Code. By Andi Diehn
Bose, Shubhomita. (December 26, 2018) “Only 20% of Tech Jobs are Held by Women, How about At Your Business?” Small Business Trends. Retrieved from https://smallbiztrends.com/2018/03/women-in-technology-statistics.html
Girls Who Code. (2019) “About Us”. Retrieved from: https://girlswhocode.com/about-us/
Nicholas P. Russo. (November 22, 2016) “Margaret Hamilton, Apollo Software Engineer, Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom.” (November 22, 2016) Retrieved from Nasa.gov: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/margaret-hamilton-apollo-software-engineer-awarded-presidential-medal-of-freedom
Margaret Hamilton picture retrieved from: nasa.gov