Decorah residents are beginning to take on the gender gap in technology by launching a brand new, completely free, after-school club for girls.
Enter "Girls Who Code Decorah", an emerging ArtHaus project that uses the increasingly popular national "Girls Who Code" platform to teach girls how to help re-write the future. The spark behind the program is all in the problem. Which is that tech jobs are among the fastest growing in the country, yet girls are being left behind. By 2020, there will be 1.4 million jobs available in computing related fields. US graduates are on track to fill 29% of those jobs. Women are on track to fill just 3%.
And while interest in computer science ebbs over time, the biggest drop off happens between the ages of 13-17. Which is why local organizers think it's mission-critical to catch these girls before they fall off of the educational cliff into the digital divide. The program's heart is centered on the notion that girls can do more than just consume technology. They can create it.
The adults backing the club believe that Decorah can be an incubator of innovation and ingenuity for girls who want to impact the future in this way, or simply learn the tools they need to better understand their changing technological landscape. Organizers received grant funding earlier this year from Thrivent Financial and utilized those funds to put on a "Technology + Tea" event with regional women in tech. The gathering was filmed, attendees interviewed, and a short film was made to help area girls understand why women belong in the field and also empower them with the knowledge that not only can they "see it", in other women, they can definitely "be it" for themselves.
That film, along with "Code: Debugging the Gender Gap" will be shown in the open air, under the stars, this Saturday evening, September 16th, at 8 p.m. in the Arthaus Courtyard on Water Street. Attendees of the outdoor film screening are encouraged to bring their own chairs and are welcome to bring their own beverages. The showing is free, and all ages are welcome.
Girls attending are going to do more than learn to code. The pulse of the program also dictates that each "Girls Who Code" group, within the first few sessions, will identify a problem or issue within their community, and then spend their academic year together creating a techology to address that problem. Alumni of the program across the country have initiated projects that address issues such as environmental protection, anxiety support, and bridging generational communication differences to preserve culture. It's about using creativity to overcome difficulty. It's about community, empowerment, and girls having a seat at the table where our collective future is made.
Classes are weekly (with the exception of holidays and snow days), and begin soon-- Thursday, September 21st, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Registration is completely FREE and only takes a few minutes online. Girls simply must be in the age range of 6-12th grade.
How you can help:
If you're interested in supporting "Girls Who Code Decorah", there's so much you can do. 'Like' the organization and follow them on Facebook to stay in the know. Financial support is important and always useful, given that the club must be completely free for these girls to better level the economic playing field. A recent fundraiser has been successful, and the Decorah community continues to donate, which will go a long way toward the long-term success of the club. Would you like to donate other supplies, time, or help organizers connect with influencers in the region? Email them at: GirlsWhoCodeDecorah@Gmail.com.
If you're a girl in the 6th-12th grade age range, attend this Saturday's Outdoor Film Screening at ArtHaus, and/or consider registering online now. Regardless of your age, please bring the girls in your life out for the film. The popcorn will be hot and the conversation will be warm and welcoming.
An educationally, economically, professionally robust and diverse Northeast Iowa is possible. Join "Girls Who Code Decorah" in helping to support girls in the Driftless, as they write themselves into a creative and dynamic future.