Kingston, Jamaica – In an effort to close the significant gender gap present in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector, the Jamaica Coalition of Services Industries (JCSI) hosted a four week ‘Jamaican Girls Coding’ summer camp for twenty teenaged girls.
The summer camp was executed in partnership with JAMPRO and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and took place from July 28- August 22. During the summer camp the girls, aged 12 – 14, focused on website design/development, introduction to HTML, coding – concepts and practices of computational thinking, sequence and loops. The participants also learnt introduction to animation using Toon Boom software from GSW Reel Rock studios.
According to the Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, State Minister in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce it is critical for the country to develop ICT skills and a culture of entrepreneurship within the youth from an early age. The State Minister was speaking at the Jamaican Girls Coding Graduation ceremony held on Friday, August 22 at JAMPRO’s head office.
Minister Ffolkes-Abrahams said, “From all indications the coding programme has not only been exciting and interesting but equally rewarding and productive. Girls I congratulate you each and every one of you. I wish you all the best for the future.”
The programme was geared at contributing to the narrowing of the existing gender gap with regard to the participation of women in ICT careers. According to JCSI’s July 2013 Gender Focus Group’s report, women represent 12% of all computer science graduates which have plummeted from the 1984 figure of 37% of all computer science graduates. Today women make up just 25% of the computing workforce.
Other objectives of Jamaican Girls Coding are to encourage students, particularly girls, to become creators of technology, rather than simply consumers of technology. To develop a sustainable ICT technology training program with support from local and international partners, and allow girls to develop the confidence and competence to participate at every level in the ICT sector.
For Nastassia Virgo and Nastacia Walters who presented on behalf of the participants at the graduation ceremony the summer camp was a resounding success. They said, “the Jamaican Girls Coding Program challenged us as females to equip ourselves to transform our imaginations into the reality that as females we can be more visible in a sector where the female role is diminishing. We were privileged to be exposed to a variety of instructors who introduced us to the foundation of programmes we use on a daily basis for entertainment.”
In keeping with the goals of the international programme the girls have been encouraged to form coding clubs at their schools, which they plan to uphold.
Jamaican Girls Coding Summer Camp is a funded by DFID and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), in association with the Jamaica Coalition of Service Industries (JCSI) based at JAMPRO, and the coalition partners –, Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Mussons Foundation, Productive Business Solutions (PBS) and DELL.