Gender Roles in Programming- Should Girls Code?
Assume you have a box containing 100 balls, of which 49 have the letter “M” engraved on them, and the remaining 51 have F engraved on them.
These balls are shuffled and a random individual is asked to pick out 10 balls. If the individual pulls out 8 “M”s and 2 “F”s for 5 consecutive times, then it’s either the game is rigged to intentionally discriminate against “F, or there is a bug somewhere.
This is the situation in coding and programming right now. The population of Nigeria is about 51% female, and the population of young girls and women showing interest in programming is less than 10%.
This “rigging” can be seen by simply walking around a rural neighborhood. The boys are busy building carts and bicycles with the little things they can find around them, while the young girls are often found practicing cooking with sand and leaves, or braiding the hair of their dolls.
From the time we are born, children are expected to fit into gender and social norms.
Sayings like, “Sugar and spice and everything nice, that’s what little girls are made of,” and “Boys will be boys,” are a prime example of such. We expect boys and girls to fit into these roles defined by society, our parents, and our education.
Until women entered the workforce, the roles were strict and quite defined. The percentage of women in the technology work-space has increased a lot in recent years though, however we still have a long way to go. Marketing often depicts the men as the owners of personal computers and gadgets, while girls are already being artificially encouraged not to code before they can make the choice themselves!
At TechQuest we are fundamentally geared towards making sure that the teaching and learning of programming among Nigerian children is evenly distributed among both boys and girls.
At our coding camps and programs, we ensure that the girls are given as much attention as boys to encourage them to become programmers and developers. We want to include everyone in computer science.
We believe that every African Child should learn how to program a computer, and we also believe that boys and girls are equally capable of becoming programmers.