Girls given coding training
Twelve girls from public schools were given coding skills on a camp funded by a local insurance company.
ConnecTech’s first Django Girls coding camp took place during the Easter break as part of a plan to ensure girls get a fair chance of future opportunities in technology.
Hamilton Insurance Group sponsored the programme, in which pupils were trained by expert instructor Rebecca Conley.
They were given web development skills and taught how to build their own blog or website from scratch using coding languages Django, HTML, CSS and Python. The week concluded with a showcase at the tech incubator’s purpose-built space on Cedar Avenue in Hamilton.
In the United States, the software development field is typically dominated by men, according to Department of Labour statistics.
In Bermuda, the Department of Statistics has recognised the field faces a shortage of Bermudians in general.
ConnecTech founder Coral Wells said: “This is just the first of many initiatives specifically intended to help close the gender gap in tech by introducing software development skills to young girls and women.
“Thanks to Hamilton’s sponsorship, 12 primary and middle school students from across the island were able to take advantage of this opportunity.”
Mrs Wells added: “We are excited to have Rebecca teaching the first of at least three Django Girls coding camps for our public school girls.
“The next camp is planned for the summer and we will once again be reaching out to the public schools for recommendations for students to participate.
“Certainly, we know that the demand for skilled developers is only going to increase. As Bermuda’s only technology training centre, we want to ensure that our people are ready for the opportunities and our girls get a fair chance.”
Dellwood Middle School student, Mya Swan, 13, plans to further her skills at ConnecTech and with online classes.
She said: “It made me realise that coding could be a career and there’s so much to do that involves coding. It’s a hard skill to learn but it’s fun because you get to put your website and the fruits of your struggle on the internet.”
Education minister Diallo Rabain said: “I am always delighted to see programmes that encourage young people to prepare themselves for tomorrow.
“These young ladies are benefiting from a ground-floor understanding of a discipline that is part of a sought-after skill.
“Digital literacy and proficiency is part of the 21st century version of ‘reading, writing and arithmetic’. Coding is an element of that and therefore this programme is useful to identify young people who may have an interest.”
Hamilton Re CEO Kathleen Reardon said: “At Hamilton, software development is a critical skill that enables our ability to achieve our mission of writing the future of risk.
“Our investment in programmes like Django Girls is an investment in Bermuda’s future workforce, and we’re delighted that 12 young women have had a chance to explore the opportunities this exciting field could offer them.”
Ms Conley said: “The girls did well — all completed their projects on time and, importantly, learnt some life skills along the way.
“Coding is a form of literacy which demands discipline, creativity and iterative learning. Important learning and breakthroughs happen through failure — when something doesn’t work, so it’s not your typical classroom experience.”
Participating schools were Sandys Middle School, Clearwater Middle School, Dellwood Middle School, Gilbert Institute, Heron Bay Primary School, St George’s Preparatory and West Pembroke Primary School.
Participating students were Priel Minors, Elektra Smith, Israel Furqan, Mya Swan, Azari Easton, Jasmine Scaife, Savannah Tavares, Siniah Lambe, Celine Smith-Martin, Ciarra Wells, Lia Smith and Christina Leverock.
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