A tech career not just for gamers and AI enthusiasts, industry leaders tell women – Business

girl-math-science-chalkboardAlthough Katie Meyer, 19, has considered a career in technology, she isn’t sure it’s in the cards for her. Three years ago, when she was 16, her mother enrolled her in a coding camp for girls. “They made it really friendly for people that age, so it was really easy to learn,” Meyer says. “We just sat down and started learning HTML and CSS.” She decided to pursue coding, so she took a course at her high school. It didn’t go as well. “It was hell on earth! Like, it was awful.” She felt out of her element, and couldn’t quite catch up to the rest of her classmates. She says it didn’t help that she was one of only two girls in that class. “All the guys knew exactly what they were doing.” Meyer, a history buff, ended up dropping that course and hasn’t pursued coding since. Stories like hers are playing out across the country. According to consulting firm McKinsey & Company, men vastly outnumber women in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Only 28 per cent of STEM graduates are women, and only 23 per cent of people working in high-paying STEM industries are women. Industry leaders are trying to improve those statistics and say the best way to get more women into tech is to change the conversation around what tech is — and what it’s not. Andrea Stairs, managing director of eBay Canada, spends a lot of time thinking about how to increase the ranks of women in her field. “I don’t think tech is a particularly friendly environment for women and I think we see that over and over again. It’s depressing,” Stairs says. Cast wider nets: Ebay has made a commitment to tracking diversity within the company, which employs 12,600 people globally. The last snapshot is from 2016 and it shows that women make up 22 per cent of its tech workforce.  Read the rest of the story here

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$200 million a year for Computer Science

Today, the White House announced a $200 million per year commitment to computer science education in America’s schools. Unlike similar proposals in previous years, today’s action delivers funding to schools, immediately. Besides expanding access to computer science in schools that previously didn’t teach it, the funds promise to increase participation by women and underrepresented minorities. This funding will jumpstart efforts to ensure every student in every school has the opportunity to learn computer science as part of a well-rounded education. For advocates of increased access and diversity in CS, this is the culmination of years of momentum that began in classrooms, spread to entire school districts, and won the support of business leaders and elected officials globally. At a time when computing careers are the best-paying, fastest-growing, and largest sector of new wages, impacting every industry in every state, it is no longer acceptable for our schools to limit access to this foundational subject. Our children deserve a level playing field — the opportunity to learn computer science shouldn’t be limited by the color of a student’s skin or the neighborhood she lives in. The UK, Japan, Ireland, and a dozen other countries have announced plans to add computer science to their school curriculum. It is unacceptable for the U.S. to lag behind. The country that invented the personal computer, the Internet, and the smartphone should also lead in computer science. And today, America leads in computer science, thanks to countless supporters of this cause, starting with you: parents, students, and teachers, as well as partner organizations and local governments. Whether you signed a petition on Code.org or used our courses in your classroom, you’ve helped build a grassroots movement that is changing education, globally. The division in our country hurts us all. Amidst the politics, America’s students represent our hope. We all want opportunity for our children, and there’s no better way to offer them opportunity than to prepare them for the careers of the future. This movement has supporters across the political spectrum, whether in urban, suburban, or rural communities. 90% of parents support computer science in schools. Americans may be divided by our politics, but we’re united by our dedication to our children. We all believe in opportunity and the American Dream. Code.org has never endorsed any candidate, politician, or political party. We’ve worked closely with presidents and governors from both parties, and with international prime ministers, to advocate for opportunity. Like many others, we’re appalled by the divisiveness in today’s politics, at a time when we need collaborative solutions to the world’s problems. Given our education focus, we’re dismayed by proposed cuts to education budgets. And given our mission and focus on diversity, we unequivocally denounce the tone of racism that has entered the political sphere. Today we have a chance to set aside politics and come together, to support opportunity for all our youth, and to build our nation’s future. For those of us who have spent years working to spread computer science, today’s announcement marks a new beginning — it’s a new opportunity for every school to expand its computer science offerings. This work is only just beginning, and the job won’t be done until every state and school district in America steps up to teach high-quality computer science. To the 600,000 Code.org teachers who have helped make computer science the fastest-spreading subject in modern education, I want to thank you for your passion. And I encourage every educator to consider joining the computer science movement. Your students are our future. Whether you teach your students to add and subtract, to read and write, or to code, yours is the most important job in the world. Today marks a special moment for every parent, student, teacher, or partner organization who believes in our mission, that every student in every school deserves the opportunity to learn computer science. To all of you who have supported Code.org, today’s announcement is about something bigger than any politician or political agenda: it’s about our children and their future, and it’s about you, and the strength of our global movement for students. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Hadi Partovi, Code.org (read the original here)

Teaching coding in Canadian schools: How do the provinces measure up? 

As Canada’s tech industry grows, people with coding skills are in increasingly higher demand, which means young people entering the workforce are concentrating more on computers and how to master the code and manipulate the data they run on. A 2016 study by the Information and Communications Technology Council predicts 182,000 skilled information and communications technology (ICT) workers will be needed in 2019, with another 36,000 required in 2020. Caroline Burgess, a STEM education and career consultant in Hamilton, Ont., says a bidding war has erupted amongst companies searching for computer-savvy employees. She says coding has become an “essential skill.” Morgan Rodwell, a chemical engineer with the Alberta firm Fluor, said that’s true of his industry. “You can’t just rely on a bunch of computer scientists, who understand how the computer works, but don’t understand the domain and the problem you’re really trying to solve outside the code,” he said. Burgess argues that to set children up for success, coding should be taught early in Canadian schools along with core curriculum such as math, English and science. So, how is coding taught in Canadian schools? Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and BC: Making coding mandatory As of August 2017, coding is already a mandatory part of the curriculum in Nova Scotia up to Grade 6.  In a statement, the education ministry says primary to Grade 3 students “use floor robots to learn sequencing and programming,” while students from grades 4 to 6 work with “invention kits.” A spokesperson for the ministry says coding is optional through grades 7 to 12, as the province works to further renew its curriculum with coding in mind. There are also activities like the Hour of Code that allow students to take part in maker-spaces and robotic competitions, which is a program that New Brunswick also participates in. In a statement, a spokesperson for New Brunswick’s education ministry said coding has been made mandatory as part of its Middle School Technology Education course for Grades 6 to 8. Outside of those grades, the province has introduced it as an elective. Students can also take part in a “virtual co-op” with information and communications technology (ICT) businesses that have partnered with the government. “We are providing training to interested teachers to foster more technology-related teaching, including the use of coding, in all areas of instruction,” said Kelly Cormier, communications officer with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. The B.C. government has also announced plans to make coding mandatory in schools across the province. That decision was made in 2016, by the then-Liberal government led by Christy Clark. In June 2016, the ministry provided school districts with a $6-million injection to “support coding and curriculum implementation.” The current NDP government plans to keep that promise, saying it plans to introduce coding as a core part of the curriculum in the 2018-19 school year for students in Grades 6 to 9. “The skills coding teaches can be used in almost any field and basic coding can be the launch pad to a career in the tech sector,” a spokesperson from the B.C. Education Ministry said in a statement. Alberta and Manitoba: Looking at their options Alberta Education Minister David Eggen said in a statement the ministry is meeting with Albertans on the topic and has also sat down with researchers to discuss the importance of “including coding in the curriculum.” “We know that the world is changing and just like critical thinking, computational thinking prepares students to address real-world problems and provides more economic opportunities after graduation,” the statement read. Manitoba, meanwhile, has said it is “studying the approach taken in other provinces.” In the meantime, it is examining the effects of a pilot program called Coding Quest, which was launched in cooperation with The Learning Partnership, to create a more “systematic approach to teaching coding in elementary schools.” Four provinces are taking part, including Ontario. The superintendent of education at Pembina Trails School division in Manitoba, which is one of the school boards included in the pilot, suggested his students have become more engaged in their own learning after being taught these skills. “We believe strongly in giving our students an advantage – a leg up, if you will – on advancements, on innovation, on creativity,” Ted Fransen said, “and coding is something that, I believe, every student should have at least a rudimentary awareness or knowledge of, because we live in a digital society – and their real world is digital.” Ontario and Saskatchewan: an optional part of the curriculum Ontario and Saskatchewan have both included coding as an optional part of the curriculum to varying degrees. Ontario said in a statement that as of August 2017, coding is not a mandatory part of the curriculum but that teachers are encouraged to “use information and technology tools in their teaching practice.” It says resources are available to teachers and that the Teach Ontario program is there to help educators find “innovative ways” to engage with students through coding and programming. High school students also have the option to take computer science classes that include lessons on engineering and programming. Susan Nedelcov-Anderson, executive director of the Student Achievement and Supports Branch of Saskatchewan’s Education Ministry, said in her province, teachers of all levels are encouraged to go beyond the curriculum. “Teachers have a flexibility to incorporate a variety of instructional techniques and a variety of resources,” Nedelcov-Anderson said. “So, definitely coding, bringing in robots, would be an example of the flexibility that exists.” She says computer science classes, which include coding as part of the lesson plan, are optional for high school students but that they have “not had any conversations about mandatory coding in Saskatchewan.” Global News reached out to the governments of Quebec and The Northwest Territories but did not receive a response by publication time. Read the original article here