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Getting to 50%: Gender, Diversity, and the Future of Tech

March 5, 2021

#Community International Women's DayWomen in Tech

For us at Saturday Kids, International Women’s Day isn’t an excuse to run a promo or marketing campaign, but a good reminder for us to take stock of where we’re at, in relation to our larger goals as a impact-driven organisation.

In our 2020 Impact Report, we affirmed our commitment to increasing access to digital literacy education for girls – thus building the pipeline for more diverse representation in tech down the road. There are lots of reasons why this matters – not just for females, but for everyone – which you can read about here.

In 2020, approximately 36.1% of our students identified as female based on a sizeable sample of kids coming through our weekly classes and holiday camps.

These demographics are probably not unique to us as a coding school for kids, and mark an improvement compared to data from previous years. But regardless of how many camps we sell out or sales targets we exceed, our more ambitious goal is to reach (at least) 50% female representation – because there’s no reason to aim for anything less.

Our observation is that while gender representation is fairly equitable among preschoolers and kids under the age of 10, this is less so as courses advance.

We won’t pretend that there’s a quick fix to this imbalance, which could be attributed to a number of complex factors that warrant an exploration in another blogpost. But in the meantime…

We’ve got a lot to learn, and we’re taking it in baby steps. For now, we’re focussing on addressing issues of retention and experience design to make our classrooms more inclusive and diverse.

In the pipeline, we’re working on launching a Girls’ Coding Club – conceived as a safe space and supportive community for girls to learn more about coding and explore potential futures in tech.

As we build towards this 50% goal more broadly, we’re also actively seeking opportunities for learning, conversation, and collaboration with like-minded partners, who share our convictions about the need for a future where the demographics and experiences of creators, designers and engineers in tech are as diverse as their users.

In the words of author, academic and activist Teo You Yenn, this is why:

“What does diversity do? Diversity forces people to finish their sentences in order to be understood by others who don’t share their frameworks and vocabularies, and it thus surfaces all kinds of hidden biases and presumptions.”

In a world where tech is shaping and disrupting the future, this is more important than ever. And while gender is just one aspect of diversity, it’s as good a place to start as any.

Happy International Women’s Day, from our 80% female-identifying team at Saturday Kids, to you.