Digital Girls'Day at subshell: Future Female Software Developers?

The first Girls' Day at subshell took place on 22.04.2021. Actually, we wanted to have our inaugural participation in Girls’ Day last year, but due to the pandemic, it had to be cancelled. This year, we all were accustomed to home office - and Girls' Day could take place digitally without any problems.

The students in subshell's virtual office at the digital Girls’ Day
The students in subshell's virtual office at the digital Girls’ Day (Image: subshell/CC BY)

What is Girls'Day?

Girls' Day gives schoolgirls the opportunity to get a taste of professions which are not traditional employment sectors for women and in which only a few women work or are trained, as of today’s work force. The aim is to eliminate prejudices within the profession and to arouse interest in girls in other professions.

Participating companies can either give a presentation to several female students or supervise a small number themselves. We decided on the latter as we at subshell wanted to show the girls the profession of software developer in its true form and we wanted to be able to respond directly to questions.

Preparation

Carola and I thought about the topics we wanted to cover and how we could convey them in an exciting way. We quickly realized that we had to put ourselves in the shoes of the students, at their level of knowledge, and that we need to first explain what computer science is all about.

To ensure that everyone could easily follow along, we took great care to explain things in a simple yet comprehensible way and we used as few technical terms as possible. No one likes dry lectures, which is why we also came up with various interactive tasks, including a practical programming exercise during the second half of the day.

Brainstorming the girlsday
Brainstorming the girlsday (Image: subshell/CC BY)

Girls'Day at subshell

After a short round of introductions with our three students, aged 11, 13 and 14, we first explained what computer science is all about and what a computer program actually is. Then, we introduced the different ways students can become computer scientists and how varied the courses of study can be. These include business informatics, technical informatics or bioinformatics, among others, all of which lead to different career fields. We discussed our own study experiences and projects and presented the creative side of computer science.

Afterwards, we dealt with stereotypes and prejudices. We were particularly pleased that the female students had no prejudices against computer science and even told us that they perceive of computer science as not a typically male profession. We also used statistics to show the proportion of women in STEM professions and in computer science in particular. This made it clear that the number of female first-year students has increased in recent years compared to previous years.

Before heading off for a well-deserved break, we took the students on a tour of our virtual office. This allowed them to get at least a small impression of subshell despite the pandemic and they had the chance to virtually walk around a bit with their little avatars.

Frog Hopping

Just before the lunch break, we showed the students a small prepared Angular application with Typescript and HTML, which we called " Froschhüpfen ". This showed a website with pictures of frogs that "jumped" a little further when you clicked on them. We had already prepared the clearly structured program code with pre-formulated class and variable names.

The students had a lot of fun and immediately had their first ideas on how we could extend the program. The ideas included changing the jumping distance and the names of the frogs.

Review

We had a lot of fun on Girls'Day and it was nice to see how we were able to get the students excited about computer science. We were also pleased with the anonymous feedback, which was very positive.

In the future, we hope that Girls'Day can take place in the office, but whether online or not – we will definitely be back next year!

Isabelle Dakowitz
Isabelle Dakowitz
5/25/21
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