Hamilton club gets girls interested in technology

Kristal Stewart helped Maryan Abdullah, 9, as Hamilton High School’s Girls Who Code Club members teach a boot camp class earlier this month that introduced elementary-age girls to computer science at the Chandler Public Library Hamilton Branch.

(David Minton/Staff Photographer)

By Ken Sain

Arizonan Managing Editor

The gender gap in technology is closing, but it still remains huge.

The global professional services company Deloitte reports that only 25% of the employees at large tech companies this year are women. And there’s only one woman for every four men in leadership roles at tech companies.

One Hamilton High School club is trying to change that. Girls Who Code is offering boot camps to elementary school girls to try and get them interested in pursuing tech as a possible career.

“It’s predominantly male, but I hope to close the gender gap in the future years,” said club President Chloe Zahn. “I do know that many girls who join our programs are super excited to learn coding, and they’re even more excited to learn after they leave.”

The November boot camp taught girls how to build their own web pages with HTML code. In October, they learned how to create their own games.

“We taught kids how to make games using Scratch,” Chloe said. “That was really fun. They made a game where they could take a quick quiz, or games where they would have to catch flying objects around the screen.”

The classes are held at the Chandler Library on the Hamilton High campus. Girls in the area can sign up for the next boot camp by visiting the Hamilton library’s web site. Look under events.

Chloe said a future boot camp will teach girls her favorite programming language, Python.

“Python is great,” she said. “It’s the most intuitive language, I’d say because the logic is very clean. And I really liked how you can apply Python for data analysis. I’ve been mainly using Python to do modeling and data analysis, because of the increasing amount of data around us.

“Python is really useful in finding trends and data making predictions using that data.”

It was the Girls Who Code club that got Chloe interested in programming.

“I joined Girls Who Code my freshman year, and I became super interested in coding because the previous president did an amazing job,” Chloe said.

The high school junior said many of the meetings the past few years have been online only because of the pandemic. She said she was lucky enough to take over when they were meeting in person again.

At the boot camps, members of the club work individually with the girls as they try and complete their assigned task. They keep the lesson short, about an hour, and try to make it fun and encouraging.

After all, the goal is to spark an interest in coding so that some of the girls may wish to pursue it as a career.

According to TechCrunch, 74% of girls desire a career in science, math, engineering or technology. However, ComputerScience.org says on 18% of undergraduate computer science degrees went to women.

So clubs like Girls Who Code still have work to do.

“When I started learning coding, a lot of the adults in my classes actually said how they wished they had been exposed to coding more in their childhood,” Chloe said.

“They said they only started learning in the mid-30s and 40s. That’s why we’re doing these community boot camps.”

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