Thursday, 09 November 2017 17:04

Vodafone gets behind coding programme to boost female STEM participation

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Australia’s third largest telco, Vodafone, is partnering with technology educator, Coder Academy, in establishing a technology-centric course, Code Next, for Year 9 and 10 girls in select Sydney high schools.

The new course is aimed at inspiring women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and Vodafone’s support of the Code Next programme follows a recent inquiry by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training which found that participation in STEM subjects in Australian schools is declining.

Vodafone’s director of Human Resources, Vanessa Hicks, said there is an “alarming rate of young women avoiding studying STEM subjects in school, and subsequently not pursuing careers in these areas, because there is a lack of understanding about job prospects and roles for women in male dominated STEM fields”.

“Code Next is a great way to bridge the knowledge gap and let young women see the countless ways STEM skills can be applied, so they can make an informed decision about the future of their career.”

Hicks said support for programmes such as Code Next is vital to ensure young women feel empowered to reach their potential, and programmes like Code Next were the key to driving up the number of women in STEM fields.

“We are very proud to support the Code Next programme and give young women a strong, supportive platform to explore opportunities within STEM disciplines.”

“Code Next is a great way to bridge the knowledge gap and let young women see the countless ways STEM skills can be applied, so they can make an informed decision about the future of their career.”

In its inaugural year, about 60 students from Chatswood High School, Mosman High School and North Sydney Girls High School are taking part in Code Next.

Students are taught the fundamentals of coding and design including HTML + CSS — learning how to build and style a static website — and Ruby, a programming language to stimulate computational thinking.  

Students then have the opportunity to put their new skills into practice. Working in teams, they are tasked with identifying an issue and applying what they have learnt to build an app that addresses and solves the problem.

Hicks said that during the programme, students from each school are supported by two female Vodafone mentors in different STEM-related roles ranging from strategy to technology security to social media management. The mentors demonstrate the opportunities for women and the variety of ways STEM skills can be applied across a range of vastly different careers.

Coder Academy’s general manager Sally Browner said the Code Next programme has been specially designed with young women in mind and is centred on challenging, engaging and encouraging students’ creativity.

“Girls need to be able to experience what the modern workplace feels like, the plethora of careers in STEM available to them and to meet people who they aspire to become.

“I meet students from all types of schools and the most effective programmes are those that build their confidence to solve problems with technology as well as showing them how those skills can be applied in the workplace."


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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