Analytics and coding are two of the top marketable skills of 2019, and kids as young as preschool are starting to learn within the classroom to develop those skills.
Computer programming and coding is a skill that is vastly changing the career field, but it is a skill that many people feel intimidated to learn.
Whitney Haddock, a 23-year-old woman working as an integration specialist, has found that breaking into this field has challenges of its own.
“Being a woman, especially half-Korean, I don’t really look a lot like the rest of the class,” shared Haddock.
Coding is a field that is primarily male-dominated. According to a study done by the national center for women and information technology, only 25 percent of computing jobs are held by women. In order to help the field grow in diversity, kids as young as elementary school are learning programs that teach computer technology.
“At the elementary level, we view coding as a literacy,” said Clark Merkley, the executive director of Boot Up PD.
Boot Up is a nonprofit that trains teachers in elementary schools to teach computer science and computational thinking concepts to their students. He hopes that by learning coding at a young age, the field will expand.
“Our mission is to get more girls and underrepresented minorities coding,” continued Merkley.
Throughout the state of Utah, teachers are working with Boot Up to train more students to build code with elementary programs like Scratch and Scratch Junior.
“What I really like is that these simple steps are allowing all these girls in here to feel confident. It allows them to say, ‘I can make that work,’” Janelle Gerber, a teacher at Sego Lily Elementary School in Lehi teaching this program said. “I’m starting scratch here in 3rd grade.”
Utah is even hoping to enforce a state-wide plan to give every student universal computer science education.
“We believe in the next five years that every school district in Utah will be doing this,” said Merkley.
For Haddock, she knows that she is forging a path for young kids to be able to achieve careers that they never thought possible. “I’m okay being a minority because I know a lot more people like me will follow,” she said.
Students can create their own account to learn programs like Scratch, and parents can find out more by visiting BootUpPD.org.