CoderDojoGirls kicks off at DCU this Saturday

22 Apr 2013

CoderDojoGirls kicks off at Dublin City University (DCU) this weekend – and an article on Siliconrepublic.com has played an important part in getting it going.

Last month, Noel King spoke to Siliconrepublic.com for an article about how girls can find confidence through the CoderDojo initiative. As a CoderDojo mentor, King is involved in running weekly sessions at DCU for both boys and girls, where they learn by building websites and games. The discussion about the importance of getting and keeping girls interested in ‘Coder’ got him thinking on the drive home.

"I was reflecting about the problems I have seen with girls’ participation in nearly two years at CoderDojo, and I was also thinking about the goals we set. Really at the forefront of everything we do is fun and engagement in tech, and every week we strive to deliver material which matches these objectives – we feel the members really enjoy that approach and through the fun-based approach they are learning a lot, too."

But girls and boys can have different interests, notes King, who has seen this reflected in CoderDojos both at DCU and elsewhere. The Siliconrepublic.com article brought the issue to the forefront again, and he hit on the idea of a regular weekly CoderDojo session for girls, focusing on material that would be of interest to girls and guided by female mentors.

"[I thought] let’s create a games course that sparks that interest and make sure everything we do meets their motivations," he says. 

CoderDojoGirls takes shape

When he got home he contacted DCU and IBM CoderDojo mentor Niambh Scullion, to see how she felt about the concept of CoderDojoGirls – and she loved it. Fast-forward to today and CoderDojoGirls is getting set to launch its weekly sessions for girls, to run on Saturday mornings at DCU with the first one kicking off this coming Saturday, 27 April. The sessions, which will take place from 10am to noon, will be led by Scullion and mentor Sarah Doran.

At the Dojos, girls will initially take on projects to build a fan page for a band, a Facebook game and a piano game that can teach the player tunes. "I think these are three really exciting and fun projects to build together,” says King. “Just wait until the excitement in the room when everyone is playing different tunes on the piano they build – the place will rock.”

Paving the way

King points out that other initiatives are also seeking to encourage girls to participate – including CoderDojoDivas at CoderDojoLimerick. He hopes the weekly CoderDojoGirls sessions at DCU can now pave the way for even more groups to develop girl-centric projects more easily. “We open source all our work on Github, so would love to see other Dojos follow us – and with fun material online the time cost of running such a Dojo would be reduced,” he explains.

The ultimate goal is to encourage the next generation of “creative girl innovators,” according to King, and this is a step in that direction. “Obviously, it would be great to see increased numbers [of girls in tech] in university and the workplace, but for us to achieve that goal we will need to create an environment of excitement, creativity and engaging content. CoderDojoGirls, our latest chapter of the CoderDojo tech revolution.”

Free tickets for CoderDojoGirls may be booked online.

The beginner (noon-2pm) and more experienced (2-4pm) CoderDojo @DCU sessions will continue to run each Saturday at DCU and are open to boys and girls.

Girls at computer image via Shutterstock

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Claire O’Connell
By Claire O’Connell

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