Event encourages girls to embrace STEM
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 12th Annual Hackathon event will be held from May 29 to June 2, 2023. The event is meant to encourage girls to code a visual story, to build their coding school and to show the world what they can do.
“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 underrepresented. 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
According to Hackergal, the number of women working in STEM fields in the last 30 years has hardly changed. In 1987, 20 per cent of girls would consider tech jobs. In 2007, that number only increased to 23 per cent.
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 per cent), and Mathematics and computer and information sciences (27.6 per cent).
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 the field. 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 per cent of women. And among college graduates, three in 10 men had studied in a STEM field compared to one in 10 women.
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. More than 26,000 girls have participated in Hackathons in the past.
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.
Hackergal welcomes participants who identify as a girl, live in Canada, and are in Grades 6 to 9.
For or more information, visit hackergal.org/hackathon