Females are majorly underrepresented in the computer science (CS) field (academically and professionally), but one spectacular website and resource aims to change this fact: Made with Code. Made with Code, created in collaboration with Chelsea Clinton, Girls Inc., Girl Scouts of the USA, Mindy Kaling, MIT Media Lab, National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), Seventeen and TechCrunch, promotes a simple, yet poetic idea: “code is a tool that lets you write your story with technology.”
I never coded a thing until I was 30, so exposing my children to this burgeoning field didn’t seem like much of a priority. Made with Code changed that by showing how coding innovates in unexpected areas: from creating dramatic light effects for a dance performance to helping improve breast cancer detection diagnostics. By giving girls real-life examples of how coding can be implemented in places such as fashion or in the environmental field, girls will begin to see the skill as useful, changemaking, and as a vital form of expression.
The site functions as part technological playground with several coding projects, including creating a soundtrack of different beats and making animated GIFs. One of the other components of the website is demonstrating real-life applications of coding skills, and the site enlists accomplished women in a variety of different fields to serve as “mentors” and “makers.” These fascinating women are utterly inspiring and include a video game creator whose programs are designed to make people more compassionate, the co-leader of UNICEF’s Innovation Unit who uses code to help record and disseminate medical records via cell phones, a director of photography for lighting at Pixar Studios, and a Grammy-nominated musician who composes her beats with the help of code.
So banish any ideas you have about computer nerds hunkered over a keyboard and blocking out the rest of the world as they click away on a code. While they came into coding at varied points in their lives, these scientists, designers, fashionistas, engineers, and students are all fully engaged and passionate about how coding can be both a career-boosting skill and a form of expression that has the power to make the world a better, more beautiful, more connected place. In the short videos included on the website, the makers and mentors outline how coding is a part of their particular creative process, but the message is clear: coding can add another dimension to anyone’s passions and interests.
The site also contains a clearinghouse of local coding events, additional projects and resources, and an online community. Teaching girls how to code gives them an opportunity to enter the computer science and technology playing field, and then allows them to apply or transform it to any area of interest. The Made with Code crew makes it fun and easy to introduce coding to girls at any level; they even have a kit for throwing a coding party! The initiative is backed by Google, who invested a whopping $50 million in the program.