Learning to code, for the majority of people in the field of programming, would more than likely not be something that they will have learnt as a kid! It is much more likely to be something they will have picked up as a young adult or perhaps later. With the increasing demand for people with programming knowledge, and the major imbalance between supply and demand in this area, it is key that we make a push to educate our youth in the wonderful world of programming!

What’s even more notable, however, is the massive disparity in the numbers of males to the number of females in the industry, and the effect that this has upon those currently in the minority, I’ll let you guess which is in the minority!

One person that is determined to make changes in both of these areas, is our very own Danielle Vass. She has set out on a mission to educate our youth and challenge the pre existing syllabus, which in her, and many people’s minds, isn’t doing enough to help our children to learn these vital skills. And as if this wasn’t enough, she is simultaneously attempting to create a culture that is more supportive and accepting of women who code!

As part of her quest of education and equality, we have been fortunate enough to have her give us a daytime visit and talk about why she wants to help us to develop our young people in this way, as well as outlining some of her experiences as a woman who codes…. accompanied of course, by cakes!

As the crowds gathered for the usual Cake Wednesday frenzy, Danielle had managed to captivate more members than usual with a subject that clearly hit home with those in attendance.

Notably there were some shocking facts and the sheer scale of the imbalance in both gender and the job market helped Danielle to create a compelling argument. The percentage of women helping to make up the industry is thought to be from around 5% – 15%, and with over 1 million job listings in tech over the previous year, the industry simply isn’t sustainable in it’s current form. Bearing in mind that the numbers studying computing is dropping at A – level, which is of course leading to those offering it is as an option, diminishing. It is believed that one reason for this, is that prior to A-level, many students won’t understand what computing is really about, it will be new and foreign to them, and as such won’t really be given a fair chance to be considered. This is one reason that Danielle considers introducing programming at a younger age to be of considerable importance.

With this being the case, Danielle volunteers her time helping to teach kids programming at a number of local schools, she hopes that if she can capture their attention at a young age and get them engaged with projects, they may continue this interest and go into their A-level choices more informed and better equipped to decide what their next step will be.

In conjunction with this Danielle also curates a number of breakfast programming classes that are focused on helping girls to code. As females are by far a major minority when it comes to the programming profession, opening up this avenue to girls at a young age and letting them know that they are just as well equipped to be successful in this field as anyone else, is extremely important in the battle for equality.

With this is mind, we think that what Danielle is doing is great! Of course we’re into tech, and we like to support it wherever we can, in whatever form. But what Danielle has done, and is continuing to do, is volunteer her own free time to help the children see the joys, the possibilities and ultimately the opportunities that the programming world can bring.

Our members were very keen to ask plenty of questions and they were really keen to help her in this worthy cause.  So what can you do to help? Well, there are two main things that are needed; Equipment and willing volunteers. If you have any old laptops lying around, gathering dust, or perhaps a few spare hours that you could lend a hand with helping children in your local area to learn to code, please don’t hesitate to get in contact!

We would like to extend our gratitude to Danielle for coming in to talk to us all, we really hope that it will help to raise the awareness it needs!