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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Girls Who Code

Disclosure: I was sent these books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Do you know that the most important skill for future jobs is coding? More than half the jobs in the upper income quartile ($57,000 or more) require it currently and that number is increasing. (Source) The numbers of women in computer science majors has dropped. In 1984 37% of computer science majors were females and in 2014 the number dropped to 18%. (Source) Once again there is a gender gap and this is going to matter when our girls grow up. I remember the push in high school to get girls interested in math and science and that push is still there and it also needs to focus on coding and computers. However it needs to start even earlier. Enter Reshma Saujani. Besides being the first Indian American woman to run for U.S. Congress (she didn't win), in 2012 she founded Girls Who Code. Girls Who Code is a non-profit organization that are helping encourage and teach girls to code. Reshma Saujani is also the author of one of the books I will be sharing with you today and the author of the forward of the other book. We will start with the first novel in the Girls Who Code Series. It is The Friendship Code by Stacis Deutsch. 


In this story we follow Lucy, a seventh grader who is very excited to join the Coding Club. At the club meeting she gets very frustrated at how slow the instruction is going and also feels a bit embarrassed by not having too many friends there. However as the week goes by she discovers mysterious notes at her locker about learning to code. She thinks it is her older brother leaving them, but as she follows the clues several of her club members get drawn into the mystery. The group of girls quickly become friends and work to figure out who the mystery note writer is. 

The story has friendships, worries and other middle school issues as well as teaching a bit about coding like terms and basic understanding. This book got Hazel excited about coding. In fact she said she now wished she had taken the coding extracurricular class last year but she hadn't really understood what it was. In the story Lucy becomes friends with her former best friend again (even though they had become enemies) as well as the eighth grader she looks up to. There is so much in the story as well as the learning of coding. It is a great introduction to get girls excited about it.


Our second book is Girls Who Code by Reshma Saujani. This book is about coding. It teaches some basic ideas like variables and loops and it shares what is done with coding and why it is so important to learn coding. The book Is entertaining with cartoonlike illustrations of people thinking, talking and learning throughout it. 

The book answers questions like what is coding and why learn coding. It also goes into details like the various programming languages as well as some of the famous historical female computer programmers. It also is able to demonstrate the ideas of coding with everyday situations and ideas. It is really a wonderful first step to learning coding. 

So as the school year begins again think about our girls and how important it is that we teach them coding and technology and give them a reason to be interested. Our gender norms tend to push girls into jobs that are more sociable and involve others and often coding is seen as a thing boys do in their basements and solo. This needs to change and these books are great first steps.