USU Extension Press Release
Carbon County 4-H, in partnership with the Utah State University Extension, has begun hosting the Girls Who Code club for elementary age girls. The club comes as an effort to close the gender gap in computer sciences.
Girls Who Code was founded by Reshma Saujani, who started the program after visiting local schools and seeing the gender gap in computer classes. According to the Girls Who Code website, “In 1995, 37% of computer scientists were women. Today, it is only 24%. The percent will continue to decline if we do nothing.”
“Girls Who Code is more than an international non-profit,” Saujani said. “We are a movement.”
The company adds that through its international outreach programs, it is on track to close the gender gap in entry-level tech jobs by the year 2030. Christina Pay of USU Extension did the background work to bring the Girls Who Code program to Carbon County 4-H after a mother of a 4-H youth approached her about it.
“I saw an opportunity to help provide the tools that can help put these girls on a computer science path,” Pay said. “Learning to code could be the spark they need to ignite an interest in pursuing a career in computer science.”
The first six-week Girls Who Code club for third through sixth graders is currently underway with parent volunteers Cassie Bailey and Stacy Abbot leading the club.
Abbott is enthusiastic about the club as she said it is a positive way to use technology. “You really see the girl’s creativity come out as they design by coding,” she said. “They are learning to make apps and have learned about binary numbers and how to use them in coding.”
Bailey mentioned that she liked how the girls had to learn to work together to solve problems. “The girls did a lot of problem solving. When ‘bugs’ (errors) came up in their programming, they worked together and found creative and unique ways to solve the coding problem.”
Carbon County 4-H Teen Council member Kady Heaton assists with the instruction as well. “Helping the girls has been very cool and I’ve enjoyed seeing what everyone has created with their coding,” she said.
As for the girls participating in the club, they all agree that making fun things by coding is their favorite part. Emma Bailey, one of the participants, created a digital story she calls “Dad Joke Journeys.” The animated story features a polar bear dad who travels around the world telling dad jokes and changing costumes as he goes.
“We are so pleased to offer Girls Who Code in our Carbon County 4-H,” stated Pay. “These girls are having fun and learning at the same time!”
Carbon County 4-H has two versions of the curriculum, one for third through fifth graders and another for sixth through 12th graders, both of which they plan to offer during the summer. Volunteer leaders are always welcome. If you are interested in volunteering for Carbon County 4-H and have a specific interest in computer science, or if you have a youth who would be interested in joining Carbon County 4-H, please contact USU Extension at (435) 636-3233.