New Brunswick

Learn to code event for Saint John girls on Saturday

If you can build a website, you can change the world — that's the thinking behind the national Girls Learning Code Day planned for Saturday.

National Girls Learning Code event happening in more than 20 cities across Canada

Girls will be getting hands-on coding experience on Saturday at the National Girls Learning Code event in Saint John. (CBC)

If you can build a website, you can change the world — that's the thinking behind the national Girls Learning Code Day planned for Saturday.

One-day events are happening in more than 20 cities across the country, including Saint John and Fredericton.

Organizers hope that teaching young girls the language of computers will lead to more women entering high-tech industries. 

It's fascinating to see them have a way to use their creativity and build these amazing apps and stories.- Susan Almon, volunteer, Girls learning Code Day

"We want to expose more girls to what coding is, to what technology is, and they'll say, 'Oh, is that all?' Because sometimes you hear that it's really hard, but it's maybe something they don't know about or they're not familiar with," said Susan Almon, a volunteer organizer for the Saint John event.

"If we took the mystery out … it's fascinating to see them have a way to use their creativity and build these amazing apps and stories, so it's pretty cool to see."

Almon says women are underrepresented in the software world, and enrolment numbers among women are generally down in computer science classes.

She says she even had a difficult time recruiting female mentors and instructors for the course. Two of the three mentors are men, as is the instructor.

Girls approach coding differently

According to the Ladies Learning Code website, research suggests girls tend to approach the computer as a tool useful primarily for what it can do, while boys tend to view it as a toy, or an extension of themselves.

Because of that, the workshop focuses on demonstrating how technology can be used as a means, and not just an end. It centres around the theme of "changing the world."

Almon said learning HTML code in a comfortable environment can be the first step towards exploring open data, starting a blog, or starting a business.

"It's another tool, a way to express yourself these days because everyone uses apps," she said.

Connexion Works on 1 Germain St. is hosting the Saint John workshop. In Fredericton, the event will be held at Planet Hatch at 50 Crowther Lane.

Girls between the ages of eight and 13 are invited to the all-day session scheduled for 10 a.m.

They must bring a parent, a laptop and a lunch, said Almon.

"There are mentors throughout the room, so if a girl has a question, she doesn't have to wait for the instructor to stop because they're building as they go," she said.

"There's no lost time, they can keep up with the class."

The cost of the workshop is pay-what-you-can-afford.

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