By Popdot's Nicole Sidoti
As a female tech entrepreneur I’m constantly battling my own sense of ‘impostor syndrome’. I feel like a fraud 99% of the time as I fake it ‘til I make it. But the truth of it is that I’m not faking anything. I worked hard to get to where I am today and I taught myself to code along the way. That wasn’t easy, but I’m a bit geeky and a lot determined, so I got there in the end.
@@As a female tech entrepreneur I’m constantly battling ‘impostor syndrome’ http://bit.ly/1TotMbq@@
In the process of this journey I’m now constantly looking around me to see where I fit in amongst all the uber-confident men in my field. I’m always reflecting on how I ended up here and how other girls will find their paths to tech entrepreneurship. My curiosity to find out how girls become involved with technology led me to join the Code Camp crew and help teach primary school kids to make iPhone apps.
Girls learn to code
Last school holiday program I worked with a group of second and third graders who each learned how to make their very own game that they could download and play at home after the program. Kids as young as seven were using skills in mathematics, logic, design and code to make multi-level games featuring enemies and obstacles of their own creation. The games were all similar to Flappy Bird in functionality, with the player passing through different scenes with increasing levels of difficulty to complete the game.
These seven and eight your olds were solving problems involving what to do with players with no gravity, the meaning of x-speed and the existence of dimension z. Cool, huh? What’s more, there were loads of girls in the classes.
It was fantastic watching the kids come to grips with code concepts; their rate of learning will seem astounding to Gen Xers (like myself) who have learned to code the long way. These kids have grown up with iPads in their hands and their deep understanding of the technology shows in their rapid rate of problem solving and ability to build games that progress in complexity in line with the sequential approach to learning implemented by the Code Camp teachers.
Female founders need to lead
My motivation for getting involved in Code Camp was not only the thrill of watching little kids make cool stuff. A huge motivator for me was getting out there as a female tech founder and showing young girls that there are career paths and opportunities for girls who are interested in technology. It was great to see loads of girls at Code Camp, all of them just as into coding as the boys — these girls won’t be facing the gender imbalance in the tech industry that women are facing in the industry today.
@@There are opportunities for girls interested in tech. http://bit.ly/1TotMbq@@
Increasing numbers of women are making their own way as business founders and technology disruptors, but we’re doing that in a sometimes-intimidating, male-dominated environment. Women comprise only around 4% of startup founders in the Australian tech sector. At my co-working space—I work out of Fishburners in Sydney—I work alongside female founders who make up 26% of founders at the technology hub. That’s a huge surge in the male–female ratio from a few short years ago, and way above the national average. The female founders I rub shoulders with every day are creating fashion apps (Jess Wilson, Stashd), online workplace education portals (Rachel Touttit, Peer 2 Peer Learning), and simplifying strategic partnerships through tech (Helen Du and Anna Ji, Partnerd). Not everyone is coding, but we are all working with tech to achieve our goals. Knowing the basics of how to code has pushed my skills as a designer and has massively contributed to the growth of my business creating tech solutions to design problems.
@@Knowing code has massively contributed to the growth of my business. http://bit.ly/1TotMbq@@
Places like Fishburners are helping to address the gender imbalance now and companies like Code Camp are addressing this issue for the future. Code Camp allows girls to see what is possible in a future where they could become coders, designers, or leaders in Australia’s future technology startups. Seeing these girls at Code Camp, on equal footing with the boys, presents an exciting future for women in this industry as they crash through the gender stereotypes and make cool stuff happen their own way.
Female Founders Think Tank
I’m now part of a Female Founders Think Tank, working to increase the number of girls having a go with technology and entrepreneurship. The group is made up of both guys and girls and our aim is to build confidence, demonstrate the validity of non-traditional options beyond school, and generally advocate for and support girls who are interested in tech but don’t know where to start. If you have a bright idea for engaging with girls and enhancing the role of coding in education, please leave a comment or get in touch via social media or the popdot website, I’d love to hear from you.
For more info on Code Camp and details of summer holiday programs in Sydney and Melbourne check out www.codecamp.com.au.
Info on Fishburners can be found at www.fishburners.org.
Nicole Sidoti is Founder and Creative Director at Popdot. Popdot’s home base is at Fishburners in Sydney where we’re making cool stuff to support growing businesses.