The Poly Spotlight

March 31st, 2017
Girls Who Code in RUSD

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NOVELTY: The Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) implemented the Girls Who Code program into its high schools, inspiring girls to pursue a career in technology.

By Marley Brady, Staff Writer

Girls Who Code has one mission: to close the gender gap in technology. In an age where technology is ever present and is constantly growing and changing, there is a minimal amount of women in technical fields. Many major technical companies hire an absurd amount of men compared to women— in fact, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences states that “men are twice as likely as women to be hired for a job in mathematics when the only difference between candidates is gender.” Over the past three decades, the number of women in technical and computing jobs has decreased by at least ten percent; the Girls Who Code Program aims to change that.

Michele Philyaw, a computer science teacher at Poly, is the supervisor of the program. “The world is going to a place where everything is coding- everything is being created, nothing is manufactured anymore. We’re in a place where we need to create new things, and the girls need to be part of that,” Philyaw said. She stated that the number of girls in her computer classes don’t reflect the population, which makes sense considering that prejudices do play into women being excluded from technological careers. The program also includes younger girls as well; many fifth grade girls actively participate in the club. The club is currently working on a project called “What would you tell you fifth grade self?” which aims to inspire younger girls to get involved in coding and remind them that achieving your dreams is possible. 

The program is not just about coding: “it’s more about building strength in girls,” Philyaw said. The program requires absolutely no pre-existing knowledge on computer coding it just requires a girl’s readiness to learn and create. The program meets a few times a month at lunch and after school; at the end of the month, the girls will be taking a field trip with other RUSD high schools to the Google and Youtube headquarters in Los Angeles, where they will be able to see applications of what they are doing in the club and get an idea of possible careers involving coding. 

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