What does doing something ‘like a girl’ mean to you? For Ally Watson, it means doing something you’re proud of.
“Most of the time people are using [the phrase, ‘like a girl’] as an insult, so we wanted to make this a huge part of what Code Like A Girl is about. We’re claiming that statement back.” she says.
Ally is co-founder of an educational startup that teaches girls to code through workshops, coding camps, and events at schools. You can find events cropping up in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide at the moment.
She cites a study from researchers at the University of Illinois and NYU, that found girls as young as six start associating men with traits such as “smart” or “brilliant”. The result? These young girls are less likely to pursue activities associated with “smart” people, like code for example.
“Undoing these beliefs is such a big job,” she says. “As a society we can do better for girls, making sure girls are proud to be a girl, making them believe they can do whatever they want if they put their minds to it.”
Starting her career as a developer, Ally faced first-hand the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated tech career. But, that didn’t stop her from pursuing her passion.
Ally has a genuine love for writing code that you can hear in her voice. She calls it a ‘creative’ pursuit, similar to learning a new language like Italian or Chinese.
“Once you hit that level of fluency it can be the key to opening a world of possibilities. It’s like a paintbrush for technology, to create solutions to problems that you really care about.”
That’s the essence of why Ally started Code Like A Girl. She wants anyone and everyone to be able to pursue their passion for tech, no matter their circumstances.
Now, Code Like A Girl is going to be spread further than ever before. They’re hoping to roll out their educational program across the country before the decade is up.
Can’t wait that long? Head to the Code Like A Girl website to see how you can get involved and meet like-minded girls in STEM and code.
“As a society we can do better for girls, making sure girls are proud to be a girl, making them believe they can do whatever they want if they put their minds to it.”
Author: Eliza Brockwell
Eliza is the Digital Producer for Careers with STEM. Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.