I’m doing something a little different this weekend – I’m going to be a volunteer facilitator at a Black Girls Code (BGC) workshop. Nope it’s not some underground movement, in their own words…
Our vision is to increase the number of women of colour in the digital space by empowering girls of colour ages 7 to 17 to become innovators in STEM (science, technology, engineering & mathematics) fields, leaders in their communities, and builders of their own futures through exposure to computer science and technology.
Launched in 2011 in the US by founder Kimberly Bryant, an electrical engineer, BCG runs after school projects and out reach programs for young girls from under represented communities to introduce them to code. More than that, they also aim to introduce the girls to the world of technology in a fun & interactive way & get them thinking about their careers.
As more and more information becomes electronic, the inability to get online can leave entire communities at an extremely dangerous disadvantage.
Locally, BCG has partnered with ThoughtWorks, a software company and this will be the 3rd South African event. For the first two events held earlier this year, ThoughtWorks joined forces with NGO’s The Tomorrow Trust and the Kliptown Youth Program, in identifying girls with an interest in computers. The first event proved so popular that around 50% of the girls returned for the 2nd BGC event, triggering the team and volunteers to develop an informal curriculum for the girls to progress through.
This initiative struck a chord for me in a big way because of my own subject choices at school. I remember being in standard 5 (yes I’m that old, we had standards & not grades!), interviewing at my new fancy schamncy high school. Still in shock that an interview was part of the process, we casually asked the head mistress about what business subjects were on offer. Let’s just say that for my optional subjects I ended up doing biology, Latin, home economics and Xhosa. Now, in the end those each served me well but I’d like to see girls have better choices upfront.
Above & below – at the inaugural Jhb event…
Girls are separated into smaller groups by age and by proficiency & what I like is that there’s a huge focus on individual attention with the aim being a ratio of 2 to 1 of girls to volunteers respectively.
And there’s still time to join the fun! If you’re interested in being a BGC volunteer or sponsoring venues or facilities, or know of a girl who like to attend, please contact Nyari Samushonga on 010 003 2728 / 072 050 8300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oh & you don’t need to be able to code to volunteer – trust me!
Saturday’s session happens and Wits & I’m really excited to meet all the ladies!