Poster for the film, CODEGIRL. Image from SmartWorld.
By Megan G.
A full-length movie is available on YouTube for free! No, this is not some shady ad for pirated content, but a chance for young girls to be inspired to work in the field of computer science. Have you known young girls and women who have a knack for science, but sheepishly aspire towards other, more ‘feminine’ callings? Computer science is a boys-only club no more, despite what popular (yet grossly misinformed) opinions might tell you.
Yesterday, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced that YouTube will host the film CODEGIRL for free until this Thursday, November 5th. The documentary follows high school teams competing in Technovation, a “global technology entrepreneurship program for girls.” Not unlike the Google Lunar XPRIZE, the Technovation program offers incentives for innovation. The big prize for Technovation is $10,000.
So, what are the team’s missions? To create a mobile app that helps their local community.
Creating Opportunity for Girls and Disadvantaged Communities
Technovation provides invaluable opportunities for young girls, even if they don’t win the overall competition. I don’t know how to do these things, and my high school days are long gone. The girls get to:
- Learn to code
- Write a business plan
- Analyze their competition
- Make a pitch video
In addition to these learning these skills, these young, aspiring entrepreneurs and computer scientists are ultimately making their city a better place. How awesome is that?
From the tidbit I watched this morning (though if I weren’t at work, I would have devoured all of it), I learned the documentary follows at least three high school teams:
- Team United Smart Girls from Drochia, Moldova.
- Team Psych-O’s from Anaheim, California (SoCal shoutout!).
- Team Tech Voca from Guadalajara, Mexico.
Team USG creates a volunteering app called Helply that targets Drochia teens. From the team’s survey, they found that teenagers would be willing to download the app and actively improve their community. From the film, Team USG shows the state of one of Drochia’s parks, which lacks trash bins and is overrun with big, intimidating stray dogs.
Team Psych-O’s app has a similar goal to USG. Their volunteering app targets students of their high school, specifically. The app not only showcases local volunteer opportunities but also sports a calendar feature that filters events by your unique schedule.
Team Tech Voca chose to focus on violence in regards to women. Rather than solving the problem of violence against women or women committing violence (which would be perhaps too great a task for this particular competition), their app Violentometro creates an awareness of how much violence is present in a woman’s life. Because violence is so present in the daily life of their city, things like bullying or domestic abuse are seen as normal. The app is made up of two quizzes: one that questions how much violence a woman practices and another that questions how much she suffers. The results are presented as a percentage, an explanation, and a thermometer to help the test taker fully visualize their results.
If you want to know more about these teams and their goals, I highly recommend you watch the film on YouTube ASAP. I’ve already set some time aside to watch the rest of it, so I hope you do, too!
Where Does Google Come In?
Google sponsors Technovation, and the promotion CODEGIRL has become part of the tech giant’s Made with Code initiative. If you are unaware, Made with Code seeks to recruit more girls into the field of computer science, as many people—including women—have the societal misconception that computer science is “not for girls.” The leader of Team Psych-O’s had difficulty recruiting teammates from her class for this reason. Furthermore, many schools in Team Tech Voca’s area would not even let Technovation reps speak with female students about this opportunity, because they believe women and girls “are meant for other things,” like cooking.
Wojcicki explains in her official Google blog post that she wants “to help change the perceptions of women and technology we see today.” As the CEO of YouTube, she has the power to do this very directly: by showing the CODEGIRL for free, if only for a few days. I do not doubt that the film will be added to Netflix and other streaming sites in the near future.
Visit the Technovation website to research the competition, donate to its cause, or even register for 2016… and, of course, don’t forget to catch CODEGIRL on YouTube before November 5th! Remember to share your experience on social media with #rallyforcodegirl.