Tomorrow morning I am headed to Denver to speak the first meeting of the first PASS physical WIT chapter. As a representative of the PASS Virtual WIT chapter, I answered questions, asked questions, and generally was a resource available for the leaders of the group. For over four years, I have been promoting WIT panels at SQL Saturdays and have organized many of them. When I organize a WIT panel, I try to steer the topic of discussion to “Encouraging the Next Generation” because I am passionate about making sure that kids get exposed to coding.
Last week I attended the kick-off meeting of an amazing group, Coder Girls St. Louis. This group was organized to nurture technical talent in St. Louis because there are many more tech jobs than there are qualified people to fill them. This organization is actually geared towards women, but teen girls are welcome as well. In fact, my two 15 year old nieces Alexis and Jordan have signed up. I have signed up to be a mentor.
This group of about 500 women from the St. Louis area will be taking a free online class, CS50X, available from Harvard. Since I am in the middle of a book project, I don’t have time right now to take the class along with them, but I’ll try to help out where I can. Hopefully, I’ll be able to catch up in a few months. The idea is that, by working together, the students will learn better.
Do I think that everyone must learn to code? Well, I am not sure that is possible. I do hope that everyone gets the chance to learn, though. If I didn’t get the chance to play with a TRS-80 in college, I may never have known that how much I would love coding. Writing programs became my hobby and, eventually, I was able to change careers, a career I have really enjoyed.
I am really excited about the new group in St. Louis. I hope that other cities start the same type of program. It would be great if half of the women in the Coder Girls group end up as developers in a couple of year.