On 7 March this year, social enterprise Code First: Girls launched a campaign which aims to teach 20,000 women how to code by 2020.
But why does CEO Amali de Alwis believe that we need to “flood the tech industry with women”?
Here are six reasons why women should consider learning to code.
It promotes gender diversity
In 2016, only 14 per cent of university students studying computer science were female and women made up just 17 per cent of the workforce in the tech industry. These figures represent a serious decline since the mid 1980s, when women made up 38 per cent of the workforce.
Lack of diversity is preventing the female half of the population from enjoying a fulfilling, well paid career and depriving the tech industry of talent. It’s also having a negative impact on the economy. In fact, the House of Lord’s 2015 select committee on digital skills stated that increasing the number of women working in IT could generate an extra 2.6 billion each year for the UK economy.
Demand is increasing
Digital technology is transforming the UK economy, as jobs in the industry have grown at more than twice the rate of those in non-digital tech sectors and are forecast to increase by 20 per cent over the next ten years.
Research carried out by Code First: Girls revealed that the UK will need another one million tech workers by 2020. With Brexit looming, the demand for UK coders is only going to grow and the jobs on offer will pay an average of 36 per cent more than the national average.
Understanding the code behind the tech we rely on is both satisfying and empowering. Computer programs, apps, websites, smart phones and social media all rely on code, so learning the languages that make them function puts women in the driving seat.
Learning how to use HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is a great way to understand the visual aspect of websites, as it forms the page, images, text etc and links them together.
HTML falls into the category of front end coding, but If you want to build computer programs, you’ll need to learn a programming language. Python is a good place to start, as it’s used to build many popular applications.
It fosters creativity
While coding does require typically left brained logical, technical and analytical thinking, it also offers plenty of scope for being creative. Amali de Alwis is the perfect example, as she followed her degree in engineering with a degree in shoe design.
As well as helping you to solve problems, understand algorithms and think logically, learning to code can also boost your ability to see the bigger picture, hone in on the details and come up with imaginative solutions.
Coding is as much about ideas and creativity as it is maths and logic. After all, what could be more creative than designing a website from scratch and seeing your ideas come to fruition?
It boosts your career prospects
A basic understanding of HTML and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) can give you an advantage when it comes to landing a new job or promotion. This is particularly true if you work in marketing, copywriting, digital journalism, sales or customer experience.
Even if you’re not an expert, learning the essentials of front end coding will leave you less reliant on designers and give you a greater understanding of the timescales involved with creating websites.
It opens up flexible working opportunities
Flexible working is common in the world of coding, particularly if you work on a freelance or contract basis. You can often wave farewell to busy commutes and work wherever you like, as long as you meet your deadlines and achieve your goals.
If you opt for a freelance role, you can also chose your hours and work around your other responsibilities. Freelance and contract work pay well, so you could end up earning full time pay for part-time hours.
Keen to start learning? Code First: Girls offer free community training for women aged 18-23, as well as classes for female professionals . You can also access plenty of free online training at Codecademy.