Every Coder Has a Story: Meet Sophie

Seventh grade coder Sophie Butler gains confidence and interest in computer science through Bold Idea’s ideaSpark program. Alongside her mentor Nicki Hames and her classmates, Sophie is coding her big, bold ideas, while starting on a pathway to a career in technology.

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Inspiring her in computer science

Please give from your heart to inspire the next of generation of female coders.

 

Bold Idea helps build computer science interest and confidence.

 
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At 12-years old, Sophie is a confident coder with a strong interest in computer science. Yet nationwide, girls in 7th to 12th grades report less awareness of computer science learning opportunities and less interest in the field compared to their male classmates (source).

Despite the fact that girls are avid users of technology, they are significantly underrepresented in its creation.

In fact, the proportion of women obtaining computer science degrees has declined to 18% from a 37% peak in the mid-1980’s, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. If girls do not see people “doing CS” very often, especially people they can relate to, it is possible that girls will struggle to imagine themselves ever “doing CS.”

“I had never thought of myself as a website designer or a coder, because I’ve never seen a woman in that field before,” said Sophie.

Girls' lack of participation in this important and growing area has serious consequences, not only for them but for the future of technical innovation.

Reversing the trend

Encouragement and exposure have shown to be leading factors that influence young women’s pursuit of computer science, according to a 2015 study by Google.

Girls who receive out-of-school instruction in computer science with exposure to female role models are less likely to harbor negative views of the field (source).

“It’s been really important for me to invest in an organization like Bold Idea where I get to work with women and I get to work with girls,” said Nicki Hames, a software consultant at Pariveda Solutions. “I get to help them see what are the possibilities. I think by working with Bold Idea I can hope to give girls like Sophie that chance that I never had.”

Bold Idea is building a strong foundation in computing for girls in 4th - 12th grades, helping to reverse the decline of women in computing.

We do this by deliberately recruiting women in computing fields to volunteer as mentors and offering hands-on learning that addresses students’ background and interests.

This semester, Sophie is coding a website about her passion for K-pop, a genre of popular music originating in South Korea. Each Wednesday after school, Sophie meets with her mentor Nicki in the school library to work on her website.

For two years, the pair have worked together alongside Sophie’s classmates and other Pariveda volunteers. The Dallas ISD students have learned to code mobile apps and games using the popular coding languages, Javascript and Python.

Alongside her mentor Nicki, Sophie is coding her big, bold ideas, while starting on a pathway to a career in technology. A finished project has given her confidence and an interest in coding more complex computing projects.