When Vodafone’s Graduate Manager Tracey Walsh talks about the recent Code Like a Girl programme, it’s clear just how passionate she is about the company’s newest initiative.
Vodafone Group announced a plan to provide teenage girls (age 14 to 18) across 26 countries with coding training as part of a 2017 Women in Technology Initiative. New Zealand was one of the earliest countries to respond, quickly locking in last week’s four day coding convention.
“We had more than a dozen girls from high schools around Auckland arrive, for a brand new experience. Most were about 14 years old, and so by the end of the four days the idea they would all be able to build a website blew them away.
“While they were nervous on day 1, it was just so cool that they kept coming back, nothing phased them, and they had a whole lot of fun along the way. As well as learning about future technology, they also laughed a lot when we showed them the mobile phone museum with some of the heavyweight phones their Mums and Dads probably carted around,” Tracey said.
Coding is becoming one of the most in-demand skills across industries as an increasing number of businesses now rely on computer code. Half of all programming openings are in industries outside of technology, such as finance, healthcare and manufacturing, with recent research showing that coding has become a core skill that bolsters a candidate’s chances of commanding a high salary.
By 2025, Vodafone’s ambition is to be the best employer for women, and Code Like a Girl is designed to give girls an interest in a sector currently more popular with boys, helping widen their opportunities and increase their future career choices.
“The progress the girls have made is astounding, just incredible. Their websites were all of such a high standard, and the confidence they found in learning how to do it, meant they were able to look and think again about whether this could now represent a career choice for them,” Tracey added.
Manurewa High School’s Leanne Gibson described Code Like a Girl as a true success.
“The quality of what was learned was evident in the work the girls presented yesterday. Their ideas and execution were impressive. I was blown away with the level of engagement which was maintained all week long, and I was really impressed with the passion for sharing their knowledge of all the trainers,” Leanne said.
One of those working with the girls was Women in Technology New Zealand Lead Lynn Xu.
She said #codelikeagirl was definitely one of the highlights of her year.
“I had so much fun working with the girls over these 4 days. I really hope this experience helps them in making future career choices. I must say I was most impressed when I was sitting in the presentation room and heard how they went through the journey to complete the final project.
“They often had different opinions within their project teams, but all made remarkable compromise and came out with fantastic work. They have visions and even plans on how to improve their work. Something us adults often don’t do well! I will never forget the sparks in their eyes, amazing!” Lynn said.
For Vodafone it’s not the end of the journey, with long-lasting relationships built between everyone who attended.
“Manurewa High School’s students have invited the Vodafone coders and trainers back to the school for a special event where they’ll be demonstrating the websites they made to their families. We loved providing Code Like a Girl – it was just such a buzz, and I’m really looking forward to all their parents seeing just how well they did,” Tracey said.