Connected Girls, Creating Brighter Futures: Girls in ICT Day 2021
Happy Girls in ICT Day!
Today, April 22, is a great day to celebrate how women have changed the world using technology. Many of the earliest computer programmers were women, and their contributions to our modern world are only just beginning to be fully understood!
- Ada Lovelace, the mathematician who described analytical programming and the use of variables before she even had a machine to test her ideas. Years later, her programs were found to be perfectly workable!
- Admiral Grace Hopper, who located and named the first computer bug – a moth that was stuck inside a relay. She also created the first compiler, which translated human-readable code into data that machines could read.
- Margaret Hamilton, who wrote the code (by hand!) for the Apollo 13 mission. She wrote in extra code so that in case of mistakes made by the astronauts, the program could override them. Her insistence on safety and levels of failure in the code likely saved the mission.
- Dame Stephanie Shirley, who helped develop black box flight recorders and created programs dedicated to studying technology’s impact on social and ethical issues.
- Katherine Johnson, who was called a ‘computer’ in her early career for her amazing maths skills. She was able to calculate the orbital path of the first NASA space flight.
Why are technology fields a great career choice for girls?
The importance of empathy. We want technology that works with us as humans, and brings out the best in people. Thinking about what others need, really imagining what life is like for them, and then designing solutions to help them can be accelerated with technology. In Applied Information Technology, girls practice empathy and understanding from different viewpoints to create a digital solution for a specific target audience. Once they gain technology skills to create their solutions, they are able to enact the change.
Learning how to think and create. In order to thrive in a modern world, we need to be well-rounded in our skills and use tech as a tool, rather than be used by it. Students who create with technology, rather than consume, are in control of the process. Computational thinking is taught in Year 7 and 8 Robotics & Coding. We do this via the use of flowcharts, design thinking and prototyping to help students move clearly through a problem by breaking it down into steps.
A driver of creativity. This week, students have been writing ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ stories – an entertaining narrative with multiple endings. This sounds like an English class, however, this is happening in Year 8 Robotics and Coding. Using creativity and planning, our girls are transforming their stories into full computer programs in Python code. For a programmer, being creative is now an essential skill – any repetitive tasks can be done by robots!
There are many opportunities for girls to harness the power of technology in their lives – whether they wish to pursue careers in a digital field or not, the attitudes, skills and capabilities learned in these subjects is critical for success.