A week of Women in Tech

Two things really stand out for me this week.

 First of all last Sunday I helped out at the Stemmettes hackathon at the Barbican as part of the ongoing Hack The Barbican event.  I decided to only go on the Sunday as really wanted to see the Alternate guide to the Universe Exhibition at the SouthBank on the Saturday. The exhibtition was good but on reflection wish I had gone to the Barbican both days.

It was so cool to see girls of all ages coding and coming up with some interesting and different ideas.  The projects were split between using Scratch    App inventor   or Python.

After being given a quick crash course into App inventor I wondered around and looked at some of the projects.  I met Jennifer a Student who was working on a App Inventor App to help with academic references.  She was new to coding and doing well but was able to explain a few things and point her in the right direction. The app she was working on used multiple screens, which wasn’t supported by the emulator. We tried to deploy it to my phone using the official  but that wasn’t working. I suspect something was getting blocked by the Barbican Wifi.  Fortunately we worked out that she could save the Android APK file to the laptop, email the file to me then I could install it on my phone.

That worked and we were able to test the multiple screens functionality and the barcode scanning.

I left after the presentations but was pleased to learn later that Jennifer won an award for her App 


At the Stemmettes Hackathon, the print version of this Article  was posted on the wall, it features Anne-Marie Imafidon, the founder of Stemmettes.  Its a good article but look at the first comment by “Robi”  -  and I quote 

It may just be that men are somewhat predisposed to have more interest in technology, and also to put in the requisite hours of work to make it in the field, often for little reward other than partaking in a favourite hobby, that it takes to be, say, a software developer.”

Which brings me to the second stand out point of the week.  The I.T Girls  a BBC Radio 4 Programme presented by Martha Lane Fox and featuring The Science Museum’s Keeper of Technologies and Engineering Dr Tilly Blyth all about women at the forefront of early computing. From Ada Lovelace who is acknowledged as the very first computer programmer through the pioneers of the 1950s - 1970s.  The programme demonstrates that it is only very relatively recently  that computing has become  a male dominated profession.

The Stemmettes Hackathon along with that observer article and comments together with the I.T girls programme for me show the importance of museums and preserving history.  

Having the evidence to refute comments that assume the  status quo has always been so is the first step in being able to change people’s minds and attitudes.

 This is important so that people like Jennifer and the other participants at the Stemmettes Hackathon aren’t discouraged from STEM careers and that the opportunities are open to them.

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