YWCA Partners With Google to Host coding party

By Jenna Colliflower 

On Thursday October 25th, YWCAs all across the country hosted Coding Parties to show girls of color from low-income backgrounds that they have the capability to learn about and become immersed in computer coding. The YWCA Berkeley/Oakland hosted their Coding Parties in Berkeley at Willard Middle School and at Martin Luther King Junior Middle School. Made with Code, a Google initiative to empower young girls with programming skills, as well as Rookie Magazine, an online magazine for teenage girls, partnered with the YWCA to make this nationwide event possible and successful.

Each girl who attended the Party was tasked with creating her own Rookie Collage on the Made with Code website. After completing this challenge, each girl created a written reflection of that experience, granting her entrance into a raffle competition. The grand prize at each Party was a Google Pixelbook laptop! Every girl at the Party received snacks, pins, buttons, a canvas bag, and Google sunglasses to take home. Both of the Parties were a success, with 30 girls attending at Willard Middle School and 12 girls attending at MLK Jr. Middle School, and all of the girls excitedly completing their projects and helping others complete theirs. The participants gained computer programming skills, teamwork skills, and an experience that they genuinely gained joy and fulfillment from.

The STEM field has always been viewed as a male’s field, but many girls even before middle school have a strong interest in and desire for STEM that is equal, if not greater, than the interest of their male peers. However, after a few years in middle school and high school, women are typically discouraged from pursuing STEM and end up following a different path. This needs to change, and Coding Parties are a start.

These Coding Parties demonstrated to young women that they have the same capabilities, knowledge and power as young men, and that does not change as they get older. Binary gendered stereotypes about male vs. female jobs, male vs. female behaviors, male vs. female sports, etc. need to be eradicated. Young children should grow up feeling empowered to pursue any skill or career they want to. Lastly, these Coding Parties exhibited to young women how useful and enjoyable coding can be; some girls even found and developed a new interest and passion!