Girls Who Code Club Aims to Break Gender Stereotypes

The Girls Who Code Club will meet in Cicero North High School after school to practice computer science programming. © 2015 Elissa Candiotti

Girls Who Code Club Ready for Action

Computer science teacher Matthew Harbinger is encouraging students to join the new Girls Who Code Club at Cicero-North High School.

By Elissa Candiotti SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Cicero-North High School is now home to not only desks, books, and students but also, a new club with a special message and goal. The school is launching the region’s first-ever Girls Who Code club, a program aiming to help young women develop their computer science skills. With $20,000 in state support, the club is set to prepare students for careers in technology while dispelling gender stereotypes along the way.

Under the leadership of Matthew Harbinger, a New York State Master Teacher of Computer Science, the club will provide students with hands-on experiences, guest speakers, and field trips. However, Harbinger believes the most important takeaway will be closing the gender gap in technology.

“When I look around I see a classroom that’s 90 percent male and I think, man, we really need to fix something here because it’s not representative of some of the strong students we have here at CNS,” Harbinger said.

As only 18 percent of all computer science graduates are women, according to the Girls Who Code website, the nationwide program is striving to give young women enough confidence to fix the disparity.

“I hope we break a lot of stereotypes in the school about what young women are capable of in technology,” Harbinger said. “I also hope students learn that computer science isn’t what it’s stereotyped to be.”

Some girls, such as junior Gianna Mule, have already expressed interest in joining the club and hope to change the dynamic of the field, Harbinger said.

“I think once people see a group of girls together with this common interest and taking a stand within this male domination, it will drive the point home that these gender barriers don’t need to be here anymore,” Mule said.

With big plans ahead for the club, Harbinger has only one small goal. “At the end of the day, if I can help people in some way, then I’m a happy guy,” he said.

Cicero-North High School is the first in the region to host the Girls Who Code club. © 2015 Elissa Candiotti

Students are encouraged to share their computer science trophies with the classroom for inspiration. © 2015 Elissa Candiotti

Club advisor Matthew Harbinger won the 2015 NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Education Award. © 2015 Elissa Candiotti