Today is Girls in ICT Day and the perfect occasion to highlight an interview with Karen O’Connell, mother of three and a former Dell worker, who helps run CoderDojo Divas in Limerick, which encourages girls between the ages of 12 and 17 to learn how to write code.
We caught up with O’Connell at the recent #DojoConf13 at Slane Castle.
In Ireland, fostering girls’ interest in coding is already under way in a number of cities, including Limerick, Waterford and Dublin.
“The aim is to encourage the girls to take part in the normal CoderDojo but first of all they need to overcome perceptions that technology is a men-only industry. It’s not. It’s important that men and boys realise that, too.”
‘Technology is becoming a life skill’
O’Connell said there’s a critical economic need to get girls interested in technology.
“If you think about it, we need to realise that there are only so many men who are interested in technology, just like in any sphere of life. And the same is true for girls, there will only be so many who will be interested in art or music, or nursing or teaching.”
O’Connell said this isn’t about turning everybody into a programmer. At this stage, coding is on its way to becoming a critical life skill and everybody is going to have to have an understanding of technology, no matter what their career is, she said.
“For boys and girls its not necessarily that technology has to be the career; it’s a career, but technology is appearing within every other sphere of life and that’s how we should be able to access it.”
Women Invent Tomorrow is Silicon Republic’s year-long campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths