Call for change on International Women’s Day

09-03-2019 13:03

A new report from a non-profit group looking to close the gender gap in technology suggests that one-in-two Canadians cannot name a woman scientist or engineer and that only 9% of Canadian women grow up dreaming of becoming a computer scientist.

Released Friday, Girls Who Code’s report called Canadian Women and Girls in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) found that nearly 60% don’t know a woman in the field and that 80% of people picture a man when they imagine a computer scientist.

“There are so many factors at play, but one of the biggest issues here is that girls cannot be what they cannot see – we do not spend enough time teaching our girls – and our boys – about female engineers and computer scientists,” said Reshma Saujani, the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code.

Saujani ran for Congress in 2010. She didn’t win a seat, but after visiting schools and classrooms on the campaign trail, the lack of girls in computer sciences courses stood out like a sore thumb.

Since then, the organization has reached 185,000 girls and on their way to reaching the goal of gender parity in entry-level tech jobs by 2027.

Saujani said the report confirms what we already know.

“That there is a lingering crisis of confidence among our girls when it comes to computer science, and that we have to work twice as hard to reach them even younger, and support them all along the pipeline,” she said.

Nearly three-in-four Manitobans believe that increased media representation will help close the gender game. Roughly the same number say exposing girls to coding programs would lead them to increased interest in pursuing STEM careers.

“First, introduce girls to computer science as early as possible,” Saujani said. “We know that girls begin to lose interest in computer science around age 12, primarily because that’s when they start to internalize stereotypes about what a coder looks like. Second, we have to let our girls know that failure is okay.

“Failure is such a central part of coding and too often, we encourage our girls to be perfect so when they can’t get the code or it breaks apart they give up and switch to English or History.”

MSOF honours women with new exhibit

The Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame opened the doors to a new exhibit celebrating Manitoba women in sport on Friday.

Women in Sport: Celebrating Manitoba Women Past, Present, and Future showcases women athletes, builders and teams who have contributed to the province’s rich history in sport.

The exhibit features Clara Hughe’s entire Olympic medal collection, a limited-edition doll from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (1943-1954), 12 Olympic and Paralympic swimming medals from 10 different games and medals and memorabilia from Cindy Klassen’s early career.

“We’re proud to showcase Manitoba’s great women in sport with this exhibit and celebrate those who have blazed the trail for today’s young female athletes,” said Sport Manitoba president and CEO Jeff Hnatiuk. “It’s only fitting to unveil it today – International Women’s Day.”

sbilleck@postmedia.com

Twitter: @scottbilleck

Read more...