Hackathon inspires girls to gain knowledge and tech courage

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December 14, 2017

I went back to school this week, albeit as a guest speaker to a group of about 90 girls from grades 6 through 8 at D. Roy Kennedy Public School in Ottawa.

The occasion was one of 90 Hackergal hackathons held at schools in cities across Canada to interest girls in careers in information technology.

Using the Python coding language, they watched their own imaginations come to life on a computer screen as a playable video game. Let me just say that we’ve come a long way since the Commodore 64 I noodled around on when I was in middle school.

I told them if they pursue their passion for coding, they could one day be developing not just games (saving the holidays from the Grinch was one of my favourites from the hackathon) but also robotics or wearable technology, or they could be working in medicine, sports or business. The possibilities are endless.

The event was organized by Hackergal, a not-for-profit organization that introduces middle-school girls to coding through girls-only hackathons and coding camps, and by empowering teachers and educators to take action.

Chief information officers and IT professionals from federal government departments took part in Hackergal events in 17 schools across Ottawa to help teach girls the basics of coding and spark a life-long interest in technology.

It was awe-inspiring to see so many girls totally intent and engaged.

Women are vastly underrepresented in the tech industry all over the world. My hope is that with encouragement like this, more girls and young women will gain confidence in science, technology, engineering and math, and pursue educational and career choices in these fascinating and growing fields. Wherever we look, whether in business or the 21st century Government of Canada, the future is in information technology and digital programs and services. We can all only benefit from a greater diversity of talented people with the skills to build that future.

As I told these inspiring girls, the world needs more Hackergals!

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