By Lindsay Brennan

Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design is getting ready to host this year’s Go Code Girl workshop.

Go Code Girl is a two-day event that gives girls in grades 7 to 12 the opportunity to learn more about the world of coding and software development and explore what a career in computing or engineering might look like.

The workshop runs in the morning over the course of two Saturdays.

Virtual Ventures Coding Workshop for Girls Offers Glimpse into Future Career Options

A Virtual Ventures Workshop in 2015

Each session begins with a mentor, someone from the industry sharing their experience on what a career in the field might look like. Students are also given the chance to interact with university students for information on “that in-between step.”

“All of our instructors are university students who are still learning and not in the industry yet,” says Christine Riddell, STEM engagement co-ordinator and director of Virtual Ventures.

“This gives them the opportunity to share their experiences with the participants and it is nice for youth to see young women as an example when deciding if pursuing an education and career in these fields is right for them.”

After the mentor discussion, the sessions move into coding time where students learn various programming languages. Movement breaks are also incorporated into the day—an element especially important now that sessions have moved online.

This will be the first Go Code Girl event to be held virtually, but is not the first virtual event of its kind that the faculty has hosted. The office hosted a similar event last fall, “Go Eng Girl,” which focused on exposure to engineering.

“[Go Code Girl] will actually be the largest event of its kind we’ve hosted,” says Riddell.

“Typically, in person, we’d host around 100 to150 students on campus, while this year we are offering the program online for 300 [between our Go Code Girl & Jr Code Girl Programs]. Jr Code Girl is a new addition, being held for girls in grades 3 to 6.”

Virtual Ventures Coding Workshop toolkit

New and Engaging Opportunities for Under-Represented Youth

Feedback so far has been great, with participants and parents alike happy that a program like this is available.

Before each session, registrants are shipped a package of materials.

“For Go Code Girl, there weren’t too many supplies needed since we’re using online tools for coding,” says Riddell.

“We wanted to send them a booklet, which we find helpful for visual learners, and also include some fun swag to get the girls excited and proud to show off that they can code.”

Virtual Ventures Coding Workshop for Girls Offers Glimpse into Future Career Options

The package of materials includes a booklet with instructions for the session, as well as a lanyard, stickers, pins and pens.

Word of the program has spread outside of the Ottawa area, with staff receiving emails from curious parties across Ontario asking if they are able to join.

This year, the program is sponsored by Nokia, and is part of the Ontario Network of Women in Engineering (ONWiE), a network of institutions that host events of this kind. Virtual Ventures also holds a PromoScience grant and is a network member of Actua.

As for Riddell, a graduate of Carleton’s Interactive Multimedia and Design program (IMD), she first got involved with the program as a university student, before quickly realizing it was something she wanted to continue doing.

“It was something I ended up being interested in, but had never tried as a kid,” says Riddell. “I became very passionate very quickly about giving kids more opportunities for things like this, and developing new and engaging opportunities for under-represented youth.

“The way I see it, my job is not to get everyone to choose this as a future path but to provide the opportunity to everyone who wants it, and hope that kids will discover new things and learn that STEM can be really fun.”

In addition to hosting coding and science programs for girls, the faculty hosts programs for Indigenous youth, and works closely with the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa.

To register, or for more information, visit:

Virtual Ventures Coding Workshop for Girls Offers Glimpse into Future Career Options

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