Event encourages girls to embrace STEM

Event encourages girls to embrace STEM

Photo Credit: Hackergal

Girls in Grades 6 to 9 are invited to participate in a free nation-wide event that aims to inspire girls to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

The 11th Annual Hackathon event will be held from May 25 to June 1, 2022. This year’s theme is making big change through community. “Our national community is brought together by the collective goal to close the gender gap and create equal access to opportunities in technology for young women and girls,” said representative Lucy Ho.

Participants will connect online and work collaboratively with like-minded girls across the country to code a project using technology skills that they’ve learned throughout the week. The social-impact theme will be announced on the first day of the event and participants will work on a visual story or interactive game to submit on the final day.

The event is put on by Hackergal, an organization that encourages girls and women to explore, experiment, and continue their learning in engineering and science fields where they are typically under represented. The aim is to spark conversations, raise awareness, and fuel enthusiasm in the next generation’s leaders in the STEM field in a fun, safe, and encouraging atmosphere.

The event is open to schools, libraries, community and government organizations, homeschoolers, and independent learners across Canada.

Females in STEM

Of first-year STEM students aged 19 and under in undergraduate degree programs in 2010, women’s representation was dramatically low in Engineering and engineering technology (19 percent), and Mathematics and computer and information sciences (27.6 percent).

Additionally, a Statistics Canada 2019 study funded by the Department for Women and Gender Equality found that generally, male STEM graduates were more likely than female STEM graduates to be employed in a STEM occupation. And despite the fact that women now account for the majority of university graduates, they are less likely than men to hold a degree in a STEM field of study. According to the 2016 Census, over one-third of men (37.5 percent) with a bachelor’s degree had studied in a STEM field, compared to 15.3 percent of women with a bachelor’s degree. And among college graduates, 3 in 10 men had studied in a STEM field, whereas less than 1 in 10 women had done the same.

The study presented “cultural pressures related to stereotypical gender roles (e.g., parental expectations and peer norms), a lack of self-confidence in STEM-related subjects, a lack of female role models, and preferences and interests” as possible explanations for female’s lower likelihood of selecting a STEM field of study or continuing in it.

Changing the norm

Hackergal aims to inspire girls across the country to explore their opportunities in STEM through a supportive learning experience for students and educators. At the last Hackathon in 2021, more than 450 girls registered for the event.

“Being part of Hackergal has opened my eyes to the world of options that I can pursue in school,” said Janat Baig, Hackergal Student Ambassador. “I feel so lucky that I had the opportunity to be a part of the Hackergal Hackathon experience. I worked with a team to build an interactive story online to solve a challenge we were given, using the coding concepts that I had already learned. I had so much fun and made new friends who are also interested in computer science. I am definitely planning for a technology career.”

Event encourages girls to embrace STEM
A past Hackathon event. Credit: Hackergals

Equipping girls to succeed

After signing up for the Hackathon, participants can explore all of the coding resources on the Hackergal Hub. Through this multimedia learning portal, girls can access free educational resources that support remote learning and computer science education. Available in English and French, the interactive content includes webinars, videos, interviews, blogs with role models, and career connections.

Registration

Hackergal welcomes participants who identify as a girl, live in Canada, and are in Grades 6 to 9.

For all the details, an informative FAQ section, and to register, visit hackergal.org/hackathon