Despite facing big and constant changes, it is paradoxical that the technology industry remains a sector where the percentage of women remains low. Here at Belatrix, we want to be part of the change in the industry, which is why we encourage promising students to discover the possibilities of programming and why we have been highlighting women who have built successful tech careers. As part of our desire to close the gender gap in the technology industry, in this blog, we want to highlight the Programmer Girls Club (Club de Chicas Programadoras), a program created in Argentina in which Belatrix participates.
The initiative aims to teach girls aged between 12 and 16 how to program. It seeks to demonstrate the passion people feel for computer engineering, because of its power to develop technical, creative and interpersonal skills. The club developed its activities in the Tucuman province, Mendoza and Buenos Aires. Currently, three of Belatrix’s members are mentors of the program in the city of Mendoza, where the institution, Amicana, provides its facilities and equipment to enable girls to interact and learn about the world of programming. Mentors use didactic tools, such as Scratch, which is a project of the MIT Media Lab. Scratch was designed to program games and animations, while also developing critical thinking and communicative skills.
Thanks to this initiative, the girls are not only learning from their mentors, but they have also had the opportunity to hear insights and perspectives from a variety of individuals. For instance, in September, they received the visit of the United States Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, with whom the girls and mentors talked about the activities carried out in the club. In addition, the club received the visit of the laboratory of the University of Massachusetts, with the objective to teach the girls about 3D printing.
The Programmer Girls Club represents an important step regarding gender equality, and hopefully will help increase the percentage of women choosing a career in STEM (science, technology, engineer, mathematics). Pablo Cordoba, one of the mentors who is part of Belatrix’s team, notes that the club is an adventure for both the girls and the mentors and he wishes to “transmit to the girls that the activities they do must not be tied to a gender and that they should feel free to do them whenever they like.” As one girl who participates in the club commented, “I love the club and thanks to it I’ve met other girls who I really like. I have learnt things that I didn’t know could be done”.
Maria Marta Ruiz, who is a mentor and part of our team here at Belatrix, underlines the importance of such activities with teenage girls: “Given that adolescence is a difficult age, I decided to join the program as a mentor to be able to give them tools and show them how exciting systems can be in any of its roles”. Evangelina Selman, Java developer at Belatrix, added that “As a mentor and female programmer, I’m very proud to share each meeting with the girls and see the progress they make. I hope that my experience will help them decide in the future to study a subject related to programming”.
Here at Belatrix, we feel proud of supporting this kind of initiatives and to contribute to bringing down the gender barriers in technology. As my colleague Silvana Gaia mentions in her blog “Why is a great time to be a women in tech” it is stereotypes that prevent us from seeing and harnessing our potential. The Programmer Girls Club and Belatrix hope to help young women reach their potential.