It seems the new buzz word is “coding,” however I am a living witness that learning to code can literally change your life overnight. When I was 25 I was an aspiring mortician, until I became a Mainframe Programmer. My career in technology has opened my world and ultimately afforded me the opportunity to “live my passion” of empowering women in S.T.E.M. and assisting them to re-career into the field of technology.
This week is Computer Science Education Week, and Code.org has started an initiative called the Hour of Code. The initiative helps schools, teachers, and community groups expose students to an hour of basic coding instruction. I am pushing for women who are looking to re-career in technology also participate in the Hour of Code. I love this initiative because it offers hands-on coding experience in a non-threatening, fun way! The international event is expected to reach more that 2.3 million people who have registered in 145 countries.
Recently celebrities, politicians, corporations and technology leaders have joined the “Coding,” education conversation. This week in a video address President Obama said, “Learning these skills isn’t just important for your future, it’s important for our country’s future.” “If we want America to stay on the cutting edge, we need young Americans like you to master the tools and technology that will change the way we do just about everything.”
What I know for sure is that simply teaching people to code is not going to close the technology gender gap, but enticing them to “try” it, might make the difference. It also takes more than formal education to get people engaged in technology careers. Successful programmers need professional, business, and soft skills to effectively migrate into the tech field as employees or entrepreneurs.
I also believe it will take unconventional education to help women re-career into the field of technology. My organization, Sisters Code’s mission is to empower, educate, and entice women ages 25 – 85 to explore the world of coding and technology. We do this by offering a 13-week Coding Academy (first class will be held in Detroit in March 2014,) where the ladies emerge as qualified Front End Developers. At the end of the 13-weeks the participants will begin their career in technology with one of our sponsoring organizations. To eliminate any barriers or excuses the women will be paid a salary to participate in this intense Coding Academy experience. Sisters Code also offers a 2-day Weekend Website Warrior Program where the participants create a website while learning Java Script, HTML and CSS.
Marlin Page is a Globetrotting Speaker, Founder of Sisters Code, Technology Strategist- empowering women and girls in STEM and Life, and Excuse Annihilator. As Chief Technology Mommy, Marlin shares online safety news to keep parents informed of what’s happening in the “online” world. Marlin also currently serves as a speaker for Microsoft’s Global DigiGirlz Program, has been invited to lead a technology discussion at SXSW’s Interactive Festival, and serves as a speaker/panelist for a number of organizations.
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