back to article Git it girl! Academy tries to tempt women into coding with free course

The Makers Academy has emitted a free programming guide and launched an apprenticeship scheme that it hopes will convince women to consider a career change as the tech sector's gender gap widens. To mark the start of National Coding Week, the school, based in East London, England, also warned today that a decline in female …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Feel free to be patronised

    When you think about the logic behind this, it is quite simple: "Ladies, too many of you have made career choices that we know are wrong. We know better than you, and if you'll just try this free course, you'll realise the error of your ways, you can start a new career that we don't care whether you like or not, but we can tick a box on our agenda to enforce greater diversity

    I've no doubt somewhere there's a similar campaign to force more men to become midwives.

    1. msknight Silver badge

      Re: Feel free to be patronised

      The real truth of the matter is that we should stop stereotyping... full stop... and let the next generation follow wherever their hearts lead them.

      You know... stop going into a blind panic when little Jimmy starts playing with a Barbie, or Jane starts playing with Action Man.

      Let the children flow into whatever career and stop trying to influence them.

      The trick is this... deriding the positive discrimination is negative discrimination... we just need to stop all the discrimination, positive and negative. Unfortunately, there are still people around who deliberately subvert these kinds of activities purely because they want the world to work the old fashioned way... but that's the past and the future beckons.

      1. P. Lee Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: Feel free to be patronised

        >let the next generation follow wherever their hearts lead them.

        Wait, what? Do they not have the choice now?

        It seems to me they have the choice, and they don't like programming. I've never met a parent who freaked out over their child's choice of toys. The only people who seem to freak out are those who see girls playing with Barbies and boys playing with cars in a way which undermines their ideologies.

        If you think men and women should be equally represented in a field because they are the same, what's the point of diversity? They are all the same so there is nothing to be gained.

        1. msknight Silver badge

          Re: Feel free to be patronised

          I certainly didn't when I was at school. Boys had woodwork and metalwork, girls had home ed and needlework. On top of the social pressure telling children what was expected of them throughout their childhood. If anything, it seems to be even worse now, driven by commercial interests... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JDmb_f3E2c

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Feel free to be patronised

            "I certainly didn't when I was at school. Boys had woodwork and metalwork, girls had home ed and needlework."

            Tried to get technical drawing GCSE and couldn't chose it as an option - got HE textiles instead. Actually a good life skill to have..

      2. Dr Scrum Master

        Re: Feel free to be patronised

        Let the children flow into whatever career and stop trying to influence them.

        Let the children flow into whatever career... after they have had their eyes opened to the various career options so they can make informed decisions.

        Children invariably choose careers they know about - it's a fairly obvious statement, but one that gets lost on the social-engineering lobby. How do children know about different careers? They learn about them from family, friends of the family, friends, their environment and the media - basically they know about what they see around themselves.

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Feel free to be patronised

      "I've no doubt somewhere there's a similar campaign to force more men to become midwives."

      No there isn't, but there should be. Well certainly for nursing / care assistants in general.

      Women can enter the healthcare sector at any level, from care assistant to surgeon. Men seem to only be allowed to enter at doctor or above. That is a problem.

      1. Juillen 1

        Re: Feel free to be patronised

        Where did you get the info "Women can enter the healthcare sector at any level, from care assistant to surgeon. Men seem to only be allowed to enter at doctor or above."?

        I know quite a few male nurses; they took up the field because it interested them, and they either didn't have the grades for Doctor, or just weren't interested in it over Nursing.

        They're pretty happy in the jobs.

        However, most of the male population simply aren't interested in Nursing and the duties it entails. So there aren't many male Nurses.

        1. jh27

          Re: Feel free to be patronised

          >> However, most of the male population simply aren't interested in Nursing and the duties it entails. So there aren't many male Nurses.

          And in what way is that any different to software development? And yet no one feels the need to encourage more men to take up nursing - or provide male only opportunites to get started in nursing.

      2. therealmav

        Re: Feel free to be patronised

        Women can enter the healthcare sector at any level, from care assistant to surgeon. Men seem to only be allowed to enter at doctor or above. That is a problem.

        i guess my wife (mental health nurse) must have just imagined all those male nurse colleagues.

    3. Smooth Newt Silver badge
      Meh

      Just lie back and think of England

      It's not our concern whether this would be a rewarding career choice for you personally, it's just that the UK needs you to become a programming nerd to help the economy cope with Brexit.

    4. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: "force more men to become midwives."

      You're missing the fact that from an early age women are discouraged, in various ways, from pursuing tech / sci / eng careers. From cultural cliches to prejudice to harassment to bias, it all has an effect.

      Of course, not every woman wants to be in tech, and just like every bloke won't make a good boffin, not every woman will make one either. But some of those women who would have made excellent engineers and techies are pushed out, put off, or discriminated against before they have a chance to develop a career.

      It's funny - and by that I mean, not so funny - that women are nudged into low-paid, messy professions that men don't want to do. When some women stand up and say "I want a good career with computers", this sort of thread kicks off.

      C.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: "force more men to become midwives."

        It's funny - and by that I mean, not so funny - that women are nudged into low-paid, messy professions that men don't want to do.

        Ah, that must be the why of the sudden push at coding and IT.

        For the effort and stress, compared to other careers, it's relatively low-paid, messy, repetitiive, and as a bonus, job security sucks balls.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "force more men to become midwives."

        That isn’t really true though is it? Binmen are 99% men, and no one ever talks about equality there.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "force more men to become midwives."

        > When some women stand up and say "I want a good career with computers", this sort of thread kicks off.

        I thought the article was arguing that because women were saying "I do not want a good career with computers" we needed to change their minds, because... diversity.

        I didn't see any evidence that women who wanted to do computing were prevented in any way.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Feel free to be patronised

      "I've no doubt somewhere there's a similar campaign to force more men to become midwives."

      there should be more men becomming midwives. that's a great idea.

      also, i dont think you understand the word "force". you certainly dont seem to be using it in a context where gender disparaties have been well recognised and efforts are being made to level those disparaties through education and opportunities. girls/women are not being told their choices are wrong or that they cant do what they want to do. that's not how choice works and is certainly not how this program works.

      what's being offered is easier access to courses and education that may have been unknown or inaccessable. that *increases* choice and those women/girls who previously may not have considered or felt excluded from an IT career may possibly give it some consideration - and they may still decide not to go into it, which is ok.

      noone is being forced so you can safely pick up your toys and put them back in the pram.

  2. Vanir

    Diversity in professional programming

    is pumping out production code as fast as possible following an 'Agile' or some other process dogma.

    Disagree with the prevalent dogma and you won't get a job in programmng / software engineering be you male or female.

    I do hope that this intiative succeeds. Even if they (females) do not do it professionally they will have an appreciation of the art of programming and the people that love to do it and do it well.

  3. Nolveys Silver badge

    Female programmers are badly needed

    If only men are employed as programmers then there won't be enough people to outsource.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I couldn’t advise any young person male or female to go into tech now. Pick a career that can’t be offshored or outsourced. Medicine, law, even plumbing, all of them are secure and pay better than tech too...

    1. Rupert Fiennes Bronze badge

      Sure about that?

      I'm sure outsourcing plumbing is extremely hard now a shortage of plumbers cannot now be answered by "recruit some more Eastern Europeans". However, both law and medicine can be outsourced...

    2. Craigie

      Criminal Law is a bad move. Corporate is fine, but criminal is paid criminally badly now.

      Medicine is good if you don't mind the long hours and can get to Consultant or Surgeon level.

      Plumbing or another trade is where the money is.

  5. Richard Simpson

    Schools need to step up to the plate

    My Daughter would love to have done GCSE computing but her prestigious girls grammar school chose not to offer the course citing lack of interest. Said lack of interest was probably not helped by them reducing the computing course in year 9 to one half lesson a week due to "lack of room in the timetable". There was still plenty of room in the timetable for one and a half lessons of RS! Now they are muttering that they might not run the A level either despite that being a combined course with the boys grammar.

    Conclusion: You can go around all you like encouraging girls to study computing, but you also have to lean on schools to actually offer the courses. Extra courses like the one Maker seem to be offering are an excellent effort, but not a substitute for offering the proper academic courses in schools.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Schools need to step up to the plate

      ...step up to the plate

      That is a cliché, and should therefore be avoided like the plague.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Schools need to step up to the plate

      Computing labs are expensive. Getting rid of the course was probably a bit saving for the school.

      I was in a meeting the other week where teacher were complaining that the current government drive for digital everything everywhere in schools was sucking cash from every department to pay for one off purchases of kit driven by government. Schools were about to spunk £100k on iPads but had no money for chemicals for chemistry or to replace 30yr old oscilloscopes in physics.

      Gov thinks tech is the shiny solution to all education ills, orders schools to buy shiny kit, provides some money. Roll on 3-5yr and shiny kit is no longer shiny. Gov no longer interested won't provide money to renew. School has to steal funds from every other subject to repurchase new shiny kit since they've been forced to go digital everything everywhere.

      1. Rupert Fiennes Bronze badge

        Re: Schools need to step up to the plate

        As I think everyone here will know, you really don't need lots of expensive kit to teach IT: business cast offs work fine. What you do need is someone (no, not necessarily with a Comp Sci degree) who can show children just how useful IT generally can be. I suspect that the greatest blocker on getting said people into schools is the teaching unions and the attendant wage blockers.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Schools need to step up to the plate

          Kit is cheap, licenses are not. Although education licenses are often much cheaper.

          The curriculum as it is design also prevents that sort of teaching activity. Kids are taught specific tasks and skills (i.e. how to do a mail merge in Office 2010; bad example but you get the idea). Often they not really taught broader principles (how to set up a basic network) that would be more applicable to older free kit.

          Politicians are obsessed with apps, so kids are expected to be taught how to make apps and how to use apps.

          1. oliversalmon
            WTF?

            Re: Schools need to step up to the plate

            "Kit is cheap, licenses are not"

            What licences do you need to teach coding? Everything you need and more is available opensource

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Schools need to step up to the plate

              You need to get your open source coding on the curriculum then problem solved..

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Schools need to step up to the plate

          "As I think everyone here will know, you really don't need lots of expensive kit to teach IT: business cast offs work fine."

          In principle, yes, but managing a group of disparate, older PCs adds in lots of extra support time and costs too, something few schools have. It might work in a minority of schools where they have someone with the skills and interest to support the old kit and source the parts when the older kits breaks down, but if/when that person moves on, they have a problem again.

          Then you also hit (sometime unfounded) worries over regulations etc regarding disposing/selling of electrical equipment. Someone has to test it for electrical safety and be responsible for the certification if anything goes wrong. Lots of businesses really don't want that hassle so when refreshing their PC fleet include disposal of the old kit as part of the deal. Those taking the old kit may refurbish and sell on or just subcontract the collection down the line. Then the school has concerns/worries of buying in and insuring second-hand kit that might not even last a year.

          Most of the schools I deal with very much prefer to buy new with a 5 years on-site hardware warranty. That's desktops, BTW. They few schools I've dealt with going for minimal levels of desktops and have handed out chromebooks or Tablets seem to have ongoing "user damage" repair costs which far outstrips the cost of having lots of desktops. Likewise, a very small number have mobile trolleys full of laptops they move from room to room as required and also end up with lots of user damage.

          Regulations that are real, regulation that people misunderstand, the ubiquitous "health and safety" mantra and which budget gets spent (capital versus running costs) are what make it difficult to use recycled/second-hand PCs in schools

      2. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Schools need to step up to the plate

        Schools are buying Apple devices exclusively, of course Computing Labs are going to be expensive.

        They'll be wanting designer classrooms next by [insert name of ultra expensive room designer here] next.

        I'm sure apple kit is still expensive, even with educational discounts.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Schools need to step up to the plate

          "Schools are buying Apple devices exclusively, of course Computing Labs are going to be expensive."

          The schools I deal with who went with iPads still also use Windows desktops.

    3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Schools need to step up to the plate

      My Daughter would love to have done GCSE computing but her prestigious girls grammar school chose not to offer the course citing lack of interest.

      These are not the eighties anymore. Find a club outside of school, do an online course, buy a computer/OS combination that you can tinker with, read a few books.

      WTF!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Schools need to step up to the plate

        Translation: "Get on your bike and visit the next Information Superhighway over?"

      2. ibmalone Silver badge

        Re: Schools need to step up to the plate

        These are not the eighties anymore. Find a club outside of school, do an online course, buy a computer/OS combination that you can tinker with, read a few books.

        On the other hand, schools are there to teach people, and a formal education can ensure people have a solid foundation in their understanding, which self taught doesn't always guarantee. That's not to say good programmers can't be self taught, my understand of the story is Roberta Williams teaching herself to programme was a big part of how Sierra Entertainment was started. The kids who are really interested in something will pursue it, but the rest of them need to be taught some skills too.

    4. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Schools need to step up to the plate

      "You can go around all you like encouraging girls to study computing, but you also have to lean on schools to actually offer the courses."

      Exactly this. There's no point claiming women (or anyone, really) aren't any good at maths and science and computing if they were never taught the subjects in the first place - or put off from them.

      Something else to think about: I pretty much learned programming myself, from BASIC to assembler to C and onwards, from books and peers. There also has to be that encouragement for all people to self-learn - not just boys - if they've got the natural knack.

      Have we all forgotten that a big chunk of the earliest computer programmers were women? Women didn't suddenly just get dumb after 1969.

      C.

      1. VikiAi Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Schools need to step up to the plate

        Heh, yes, in olden days computer use and programming was considered a "Secretarial Duty" (aka "unmarried women's work"). Because it involved typing, I guess.

  6. ibmalone Silver badge

    Don't teach women to code

    Teach them to programme instead.

    (I sort of agree with the AC who suggests it may not be the best long term career plan for either sex, but the rudiments of logical thought are sort of useful, however they're taught.)

  7. Wibble

    And before we know it, teaching "IT" will be back to learning to powerpoint, werd and eggsell.

    We need more engineers regardless of gender. Lets hope this programme helps a few more people into the exciting world of IT.

    1. onefang Silver badge

      "And before we know it, teaching "IT" will be back to learning to powderpoint, werd and eggsell."

      FTFY

  8. DavCrav Silver badge

    "In a bid to encourage them to make the move – or just develop new skills – the academy is offering free coding classes in Ruby to coincide with National Coding Week."

    I thought you wanted to teach them programming? Cocking Ruby. Why don't they learn JavaScript as well?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      And worse, then they fail to immediately walk into that job at Microsoft Research or Google, or get paid less than the man who invented map-reduce it must be due to sexism.

      It's worse over here on the West Coast, people take out loans for $10s K to do these bootcamps prompted by "typical salary figures" for Stamford PhDs at Google

  9. Simone

    Post school or at school?

    Makers Academy is a post-school organisation, with a small number of students per year, if I read their website correctly. How well they affect the IT jobs market, I cannot say.

    Their case is different to that of schools. It is hard to see how every child will be keen to be a programmer, or even be tempted by coding, just as it is difficult to see how every child can become a top sports star. We all, as a society, have to change the ethos that exists in the school system. It has started to change, as not so long ago IT classes (does anyone outside of schools use the term ICT?) were on 'how to use Microsoft Office'. This made those classes expensive to run in terms of upgrading equipment and software.

    The alternative ethos, typified by the 'community' of the Raspberry Pi Foundation and partners is a much more of a "cheap coding for those that want to" ethos. The number of Code Clubs (free to children) is growing, and the sensor hardware available is expanding in capability. There are also several free coding sites on the internet which don't need any money to be spent (provided there is access to a computer / tablet / phone and an internet connection). It does not need to be hard for schools and libraries to provide coding skills to children, nor for them to continue to learn at home.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Post school or at school?

      "Their case is different to that of schools. It is hard to see how every child will be keen to be a programmer, or even be tempted by coding, just as it is difficult to see how every child can become a top sports star."

      You're right. But all school kids do PE at school even though 99.9% won't ever be pro sports stars. Likewise they all do English, Maths, Science etc. Until they reach GCSE level at which point they get to choose. They all need to do a bit of everything so they can make a more informed choice of what to do later. Having the basic of programming can be just as beneficial in many walks of life in the same way the basic of maths can be useful. eg I've never had a need to solve a quadratic equation since I left school, but I have use practical trigonometry now and then. Many who do basic programming at school may never use it again but will retain enough be able to knock out a few simple batch files/bash scripts to make life a little easer if and when required.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Post school or at school?

        You're right. But all school kids do PE at school

        Kids do PE at school these days?

        Amazing the advancements in equal opportunities and choice schools have these days.

        When I was a school, it was football, indoor football if wet (put away the gym equipment used by previous class equipment first). Sod all else, apart the regulation one class of cricket in summer and one of athletics to choose the school teams then back to football.

        If they've not fixed that, there's as much likelihood for children to discover an aptitude or love for something they mightn't have thought of before as there is of discovering the joys of coding, given it generally draws a certain mind, just as football does those with no mind*.

        * apologies, I do have a chip on my shoulder, you might have noticed.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Post school or at school?

          More importantly by doing some programming they learn what computers can really do.

          So when they grow up and become home-secretary they won't believe that all data on a computer is automatically correct and all results displayed by a computer can't be questioned.

          I think PE at school has an opposite effect on fitness. If all you remember of PE is being one of the fat/spotty/geeky kids picked last and never getting to touch the ball you don't have an interest in keeping fit and healthy as an adult

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Registered Register Registrant

    The less anyone in IT the better: more £krillers for the restivus!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a free coding course and apprenticeship scheme that it hopes will convince women

    I'd be rather pissed off, if I were a man.that wants to be convinced :)

    p.s. last night I saw bbc overticking the boxes (en masse), that bbc drama, bodyguard, episode 1, flooded with number of females in various key roles. Not that I care (being, by default, a male chavinist pig), but it was funny to see how they desperately bend over (not the actors, show producers), to shove their progressive credentials in your face in that convoluted position. While in the real world, the male dominance in the same roles (sometimes fair, often not) carries on, regardless...

    1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

      Re: a free coding course and apprenticeship scheme that it hopes will convince women

      You *are* a man, though you definitely do *not* want to be convinced.

  13. codejunky Silver badge

    Ha

    "We need more women training as software designers and programmers if we are to remain competitive in a post-Brexit world"

    Why? Are women not equal to men? If they were then there would be no need to treat them any differently.

    Is this a suggestion women are too thick to pick a career in IT that they inherently want? Are women unhappy in the choices of career they have gone for?

    Or is this to suggest women need to be manipulated to do what others (is this men?) think they should do?

    What is the justification to claim women should have their choices manipulated to make them do as someone else sees fit?

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