By Denisse Carranza, Senior
Despite popular belief, the field of computer programming was once dominated by women. Kathy Kleiman, a Harvard undergraduate and female programmer, discovered that the first modern computer programmers were women in the 1940s. While the men fought in World War II, the women took on wartime jobs. Although ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), one of the first computers, was created by John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert, the male inventors did not do the programming; instead, a group of women were in charge of all the coding.
Most women gave up their jobs once the men came back from the war; however, few people knew how to code so programmers kept their jobs. Therefore, coding was seen as “women’s work” for the next twenty years. By the 1960s, opinions began to change and the field was considered more suited for men. Male programmers began their own professional associations and required math puzzle tests that gave men who took math classes the advantage.
In the last decade, many nonprofit organizations such as Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code, and Girls in Tech have been created to fight the stigma that only men can excel in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) fields.
For example, my internship, CodeArt, is a Miami based nonprofit that partners with Florida International University, the Girl Scouts, and SapientRazorfish (a digital transformation agency) to use a creative coding based curriculum to increase the number of girls studying computer science. In order to spark interest in computer programming, CodeArt infuses the arts, such as animation and interactive art, in order to entice young girls.
CodeArt was started by iPrep alumni, Maria Mejia, in 2015. Along with her Girls Who Code club instructors, Maria was able to organize CodeArt Miami, a coding event and competition for girls from 4th to 12th grade. In the last two years, CodeArt has funded two tuition scholarships for Miami Dade College’s Miami Animation and Gaming International Complex (MAGIC), hosted several workshops, and initiated three afterschool clubs.
CodeArt is preparing for its third annual CodeArt Miami, May 2018, that will include a digital art show, all-girls coding competition, and teched exposition. If you (or anyone you know) in 4th to 12th grade want to learn more, follow CodeArt’s social media for more details on this year’s competition categories and submissions.
For more information see these resources:
Instagram and Twitter: @codeartmiami
Facebook: CodeArt Miami
#CAM18 #CAM2018 #CodeArt
Eveleth, Rose. “Computer Programming Used To Be Women’s Work” Smithsonian.com. 7 Oct 2013. Web. 18 January 2018.
Little, Becky. “The First 1940s Coders Were Women–So How Did Tech Bros Take Over?” History.com. 1 Sept 2017. Web. 18 January 2018.
Some things to know about me are: I spend (or waste) most of my day scrolling through tattoo and art accounts. I love learning more about my family and Honduran culture. You'll probably find me in the hall(s) talking lively about my baby niece or Harry Styles- no shame. I don't have much experience, but I hope my writing ignites your interest!