As a female Software Engineer, I know the benefits of having other females in the field to fellowship with as well as the benefits of early exposure to coding and the technology field. The Girls in Technology Movement Hour of Code event held December 9th, 2015 at Cerner’s Innovation Campus was a great opportunity for girls from nearby schools to gather and hear a little about the technology industry, the opportunities available for their future, meet some women in the industry, and get a hands-on introduction to coding.
The girls worked in pairs to complete exercises using coding constructs. The exercises from code.org followed a Star Wars theme and included things like moving a robot and escaping Stormtroopers while earning points for certain events. The intent of the event was for it to be easy to learn even for those who have no experience with code. Blocks of code had to be put together to accomplish the tasks. They could then run the code to see what happens and how it needed to be adjusted to work next time if the desired outcome wasn’t reached the first run through. A few pairs were enjoying it so much that they finished early and used the time to work on the Minecraft one as well. It was great to see them enjoying it so much that they didn’t want to stop.
The girls at this event came for various reasons, from genuine interest in technology and coding to just wanting to get out of school and go on a fun trip. And who can blame them, right? It was a fun event! They learned teamwork through working in pairs, bouncing ideas back and forth to figure out the solution to the problem. Some of them would get excited when they figured out the harder problems. It reminded me of that feeling I get when working on a project and finally figuring out a tough part that had been stumping me for awhile. If you work with code, you know that feeling.
After the exercises, the girls had the opportunity to talk with a female Cerner engineer. This was a chance for them to ask questions and learn more about what it’s like to be a software engineer. I spoke with a senior in high school who asked things about what college I attended, what types of classes I took, how I like my job, and what I do. I was able to share some of the fun events we have at Cerner like DevCon and Programmer’s Day.
I didn’t have any exposure to coding in school until I got to college, so seeing these middle and high school girls get the opportunity to see what coding and the technology industry is like is awesome. I’m glad to see something like this being put together and to have the chance to be a part of it.