Girls that can, code

Content, Creative Studio, Development / October 2016

Ruby Wood

Imagine my surprise when I checked Instagram today to see that fashion doyenne, Donatella Versace, had posted inspirational words encouraging more girls to take up coding. What has the leading fashion designer and Vice President of the Versace Group got to do with my field? And what’s compelled her to pipe up about it now?

Donatella says, ‘It’s crucial that young women learn to code as early as possible to ensure that we have a voice and a stake in what the world looks like’. And I couldn’t agree more. It’s relevant that Donatella identified Instagram as the platform from which to share her views and here’s why.

Fashion’s interest in female coders has been given energy by runway star Karlie Kloss. The Supermodel launched the new Kode with Klossy program in partnership with Flatiron School and CSNYC in the US earlier this year. Kloss recognized the increasing importance of enticing young women into programming and explains her reason for the initiative being a result of her wish to use her own success to make a positive impact on the careers of other women. Kloss says, ‘Success is having the opportunity to pursue my passions, especially those that can impact other people.’ Her own interest in coding was inspired by wondering how her favourite social apps like Instagram actually worked, prompting her to learn the basics of programming and initiating a desire to tackle some of the stereotypes surrounding the field.

Kloss is looking to dismantle the belief that this field is off-bounds to women like her and she wants to see women playing a greater part in the future of coding. Her high-profile fashion status puts her in a good position to promote this aim.

So why don’t girls code? To put it bluntly, coding is seen by many as being rather dull and laborious, maybe even the domain of teenage boys, confined to their bedrooms who migrate to offices as soon as they come of age. But this perception deserves to be questioned.

When choosing my college courses nine years ago I propelled myself a little into the future and it seemed quite likely that technology would only become more important in the jobs market, so I chose an IT course and coding was one of the modules. It blew my mind how a couple of lines of code could instantly translate to something interactive and engaging that looked cool on a webpage. This inspired me to pursue a Web Applications Development Course at University. I won’t lie, there’s a steep coding learning curve, but there are so many great websites and applications out there that you can look at and think to yourself, ‘how awesome would it be to build something amazing like that!’

We are immersed in technology in our everyday lives, all driven by software, so there’s a huge demand for software developers and who’s to say that girls can’t be a part of that?

Taking on a programming role doesn’t mean you have to be a geeky recluse either. Those that know me will tell you that I don’t fit that stereotype at all; I can talk your ear off, love being active and outdoorsy and I’m completely mad about glitter! You can just be yourself, do what you enjoy doing, and don’t let anyone tell you to be anything else. So I really do take my hat off to Kloss for backing girls as coders and to Donatella, who herself carved a role in a male-dominated industry, for championing this direction for women.

If you feel inspired and would like to learn to code, then online is a great place to start. Codecademy offer free courses with a great ‘do-it-yourself’ environment.

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