Girl Scouts
The Google-hosted Teach Me How to Code event invited local Girl Scouts and professional females alike to participate in a STEM-related workshop August 1, 2017, at Oklahoma Contemporary. (Ndapandula Haufiku)

Technology fuels every industry. Everything has a component of STEM involved. At the same time, technology is evolving. It is no longer only used in traditionally high-tech fields like engineering. Technology now applies to many fields that traditionally would not be considered high-tech, such as painting, cooking, horseback-riding and more.

Tuesday, Google helped host a Teach Me How to Code event in Oklahoma Contemporary’s Google Learning Gallery. The workshop sought to show young girls from metro-area Girl Scout troops that they can use coding in any field, from implementing a program to work out a recipe’s ingredient measurements to calculating how fast a horse runs and how high it jumps. The concurrently running Coded_Couture art exhibit provided a creative backdrop for the Girl Scouts to participate in coding.

Women underrepresented in STEM

According to Google’s research, although women represent more than 50 percent of the U.S. workforce, less than a quarter work in the technology fields. Further, less than 1 percent of young women in high school intend to pursue careers or educational opportunities in STEM and computer science.

Andrew Silvestri, head of Google’s public and community affairs in Oklahoma, said the tech giant seeks to create an interest among young females that could have far-reaching implications.

“Google hopes that, through working with millions of young women and students across the country with these programs and tools, we will change the perception of computer science and STEM education and demonstrate that career opportunities are endless,” Silvestri said. “If women embrace these types of careers, it could change the trajectory of communities in a positive direction.”

10-year-old Girl Scout: ‘I got straight to work’

Girls Scouts
Local Girl Scouts participate in a Google-hosted Teach Me How to Code event August 1, 2017, at Oklahoma Contemporary. (Ndaps Haufiku)

Faith Scott, a 10-year-old cadet for Troop 425, aspires to be a singer.

“I got straight to work”, she said on using the tablet to build a house by code, cut down trees and perform other tasks. She said she would love to have access to such a tool on her phone so she could teach her friends and family what she learned at the program.

Sharica Robinson, STEM coordinator with Girl Scouts, used tablets to lead the girls through the coding exercises step by step.

“Although there are a lot of different avenues and hands-on activities for STEM, most of the girls are more focused on engineering and environmental sciences and never really dug into coding,” Robinson said. “This program is a [gateway] into exposing the young girls to the coding aspect.”

Female adults also taking interest

Programs like Teach Me How to Code that are directed at women — Girl Scouts and otherwise — are key to increasing the number of women in technology, Silvestri said.

Tuesday’s program aimed to inspire young girls to learn and pursue coding. Additionally, a group of women, including community leaders, legislators, executives and business leaders, attended the coding workshop.

Organizers hoped that, through their experience Monday and through greater exposure to STEM, the women would be inspired to move the needle on related legislation and initiatives.