We were shocked this week when we read a BBC report about the gender gap in engineering - a mere 8% of engineers in the UK are female. This did not reflect our experiences of the hundreds of enthusiastic, talented and tech-savvy girls we've welcomed to Fire Tech Camp over the past few years so we thought we'd dig a little deeper to find out how we compare.
Happily our story is a LOT more positive than the UK engineering stats, but, even though we are welcoming more girls to our coding, robotics, making and digital design classes every year, we would love to see more!
The Numbers: More Girls are Coming to Fire Tech Camp
In 2016 so far, 22.4% of our campers have been female, which is not only much, much higher than 8%, but also part of a wider trend which has seen us attract a higher proportion of girls to Fire Tech Camp every year since we launched. Woohoo! That said, 22.4% is just not good enough - we hope to see this trend continue in the future. There really is no reason why girls can't code!
Shout Out to Supportive Parents
The BBC article mentioned the importance of parental influence in supporting girls who are interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects. We therefore would like to acknowledge all the awesome Fire Tech Camp parents who encourage and motivate their children's interests in these fields (sons and daughters!). That isn't just by sending them to Fire Tech Camp - we have heard about so many great projects and hobbies that are facilitated by parents and shared by entire families. Fire Tech was actually founded by Jill Hodges when she was looking to enrich and support the tech-oriented interests of her own kids (a boy and a girl!) so talking about the importance of family in shaping interests and outlook comes straight from the heart.
Here's what one parent said about their daughter's experience at a Video Games Design camp with us this summer. Encapsulates exactly what we are trying to do and we're so glad it's working!
Camp should be fun, innovative, a different experience from every day school learning. It should be able to capture our kids' attention and possible even stir them in a direction for what they may be interested in later in life. I feel that's exactly what happened for our daughter at her video game design class. She has been expressing an interest in becoming an engineer hence why I picked this camp. She stepped into a warm and friendly environment, learned about creating an end product from her ideas and had fun all the while. I am so glad to have found Fire Tech and will be back every year hopefully.
Straight from the Campers' Mouths
If we're giving kudos to the parents then of course we have to give it to the amazing girls who take part in Fire Tech Camp, too. They're the ones who are defying a depressing trend and not letting stereotypes and statistics get in the way of their own passions and ambitions.
If any parents or girls are at all apprehensive about stepping into a male-dominated environment at Fire Tech Camp, then think again. And don't just take our word for it - here's what some of the girls at Fire Tech Camp have to say...
This is my 8th course from from Fire Tech Camp so far - they really are that good!
14-year-old after completing advanced coding camp, Python II
Now I've got another passion. CODING!
16-year-old Arduino Engineer
It was so informative and helpful for me. I now know how to make an app! Which is not something you expect an 11-year-old girl to do! I really liked Emily [tutor] and would DEFINITELY come back to this camp!!
11-year-old Mobile App Developer
Fire Tech not only teaches you, it helps you build confidence.
13-year-old Java Programmer
To all our female campers (who may well also be the world's future programmers, engineers, digital artists, game designers and app developers) - keep doing what you're doing. Make your future!