Code: Debugging the Gender Gap

Robin Hauser Reynolds and Kimberly Bryant

Robin Hauser Reynolds, the Director/Producer of CODE interviews Kimberly Bryant, Founder & CEO Black Girls Code

A film many instructors may want to use in class or tell students to watch is now widely available. The film is the documentary Code: Debugging the Gender Gap. You can find it on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vimeo, and TV on demand. It will be available to stream on Netflix in 2017.

The film explores how cultural mindsets, stereotypes, educational hurdles and sexism all play roles in keeping the number of women and minorities in software engineering jobs low. It has screened in 47 countries and at over 400 companies and organizations, including The White House.

“We are thrilled that CODE continues to have impact on audiences across all industries worldwide, and that we’ll have the chance to reach so many more when it begins streaming on Netflix next year,” said Director and Producer Robin Hauser. “Our hope is that it continues to open up conversations about what we would all gain from having more women and minorities code.”

Robin Hauser Reynolds & Megan Smith

Diretor Robin Hauser Reynolds, interviews Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer of the United States during the Obama Admistration

Code: Debugging the Gender Gap includes interviews with employees at Yelp, Facebook, Google, and Pinterest, among others, and explores how cultural mindsets, stereotypes, educational hurdles and sexism all play roles in keeping the number of women and minorities in software engineering jobs low – and what can be done to change this.

A Post-Election Statement

crying

I’m a white woman. I did not vote for Donald Trump. I’ve supported Hillary Clinton since the 1990′s. Since the election, I’ve searched for ideas as to what I can do going forward to support ideas and causes I believe in during the next 4 years.

One of the things I’ve done, and will continue to do, is support women. I support women in tech on my Web Teacher blog. I support women in entertainment on my Old Ain’t Dead blog. I use my Twitter accounts @vdebolt and @OldAintDead to do the same thing. That has been my point of activism for several years.

I’m not physically able to go out to march in protests. I don’t drive at night so that eliminates joining environmental action groups that meet locally. Beyond pointing out examples of worthy women on my blogs, what else have I got? Well, money. Not much money, but it’s what I’ve got.

I considered environmental organizations. I considered LGBTQ organizations. I considered social justice organizations. I considered women’s organizations. I support all those activists in what they do. They are all worthy choices. They all face danger under the President elect. What could I pick to support that I don’t already support?

In the end, I chose Black Girls Code and Being Black at School as places where I want to put my money. They both fit my values as an educator, as a tech nerd, and as a human who believes in equal rights.

I live in a blue state. These two organizations have the potential to make a difference in the red states. Red states are the places that need the most effort. Being Black at School is a fledgling, it needs support to do the good work it is capable of doing.

There are lists circulating now suggesting places where you can volunteer or donate to make a difference. Take a look at Black Girls Code and Being Black at School when you evaluate those lists. Maybe they are right for you, too.

Image credit: Ivan Friande

Girls Who Code releases Girls Who Code Loop

Girls Who Code Loop App

This press release came in from Girls Who Code today. Since I’ve been reading SuperBetter: The Power of Living Gamefullyby Jane McGonigal lately, I can see that the Girls Who Code people have taken the idea of gamefulness and put it into a useful app that will help develop young women in tech. Here’s the press:

Girls Who Code, the national nonprofit working to close the gender gap in technology, today released Girls Who Code Loop, the first-ever app custom-built for its community. The app helps the Girls Who Code sisterhood of students and alumni stay in the loop and support each other. It’s available to download for free on iOS and Android.

In the app, girls can join discussion “loops” based on their interests, location, or Girls Who Code program. They can post and comment about everything from coding to college and jobs or internships — all in a fun and respectful space custom-built for them. Girls can also learn about events and opportunities in their area, tag a post with a “Raised Hand” to get help from the community, and keep up with old friends or make new ones who share their connection with Girls Who Code. To learn how to use the app, watch the “Introducing Girls Who Code Loop” video on YouTube.

The app name refers to the computer science concept of a “loop,” one of the Core4 computer science concepts that all Girls Who Code students learn. A loop tells a computer to repeat a sequence of instructions. Girls Who Code Loop is available to current students and graduates of Girls Who Code programs, Clubs Facilitators, and Summer Immersion Program teaching teams. You must be thirteen years of age or older to use this app.

“Girls Who Code will reach 40,000 girls by the end of the academic year, and one thing we’ve learned in the process is that community matters. Girls need community and support from their peers to maintain and persist in computer science.” said Girls Who Code Founder and CEO, Reshma Saujani. “In fact, social encouragement and female role models are two of the most important factors influencing a girl’s decision to pursue computer science. With Girls Who Code Loop, we’re providing a platform for our girls to build connections and encourage each other to pursue a future in computer science.”

Through its programs, Girls Who Code is building the largest pipeline of future female engineers in the United States. The release is part of a broader Girls Who Code Alumni Program that launched in 2015 with commitments of nearly $3 Million from AT&T, Adobe, and the Prudential Foundation to grow the tech talent pipeline for women. In addition to Girls Who Code Loop, Girls Who Code has also launched #HireMe, a job and internship board that connects its alumni to opportunities with more than 60 major US companies.

Girls Who Code created the app in partnership with Small Planet, a New York-based agency specializing in iOS and Android development.

About Girls Who Code

Girls Who Code is a national non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology. Through its Summer Immersion Program and Girls Who Code Clubs, the organization is leading the movement to inspire, educate, and equip young women with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities. Additional information is available at www.girlswhocode.com.

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Preview of “What Comes Next is the Future”

What Comes Next is the Future

What Comes Next is the Future is a documentary film about the future of web design as envisioned by the people who build the web.

Here’s the film description:

What Comes Next Is the Future is a documentary film about the web created by Bearded founder Matt Griffin. It is the story of Tim Berners-Lee’s creation – how it came to be, where it’s been, and where it’s going – as told by the people who build it.

 

In the film, Griffin knits together a narrative by mining dozens of conversations with important figures from throughout the web’s history including Jeffrey Zeldman, Denise Jacobs, Tim Berners-Lee, Ethan Marcotte, Chris Wilson, Lyza Danger Gardner, Eric Meyer, Irene Au, Alex Russell, Trent Walton, Val Head, Jonathan Snook and many more.

After you watch the preview, go to the futureisnext.com site to see to the list of cities and dates for viewings or to sign up for updates.

Thanks to Eric Meyer for mentioning this documentary on Facebook, otherwise I might not have heard about it. Hope my mentioning it here helps even more people become aware of the film.

Image ©Bearded

New Accessibility Tutorial for Learners and Educators

The Paciello Group announced a new online interactive tutorial called Teach Access. The tutorial is well organized and allows the learner to do some coding and see the results. It’s a result of work done by The Paciello Group and the Teach Access organization.

Learners are encouraged to use Voice Over to verify results of their coding efforts. Instructions for using Voice Over are included.

Something this tutorial does that you don’t often see is offer instruction in ARIA attributes such as ‘aria-labelledby’ and ARIA roles such as ‘list’ and ‘listitem’.

Following the exercises involving code, there is a section on design principles that talks about color contrast, text size, copy writing, and photos and videos.

This tutorial is a very useful site for anyone who wants to learn about writing accessible web sites.

 

Review: Writing Interactive Fiction with Twine

Writing Interactive Fiction with Twine - Amazon affliate link

Writing Interactive Fiction with Twine  by Melissa Ford is from Que Publishing (2016). This book is part software manual, part writing workshop.

The software described in the book, Twine, is free to download. There are sites mentioned in the book where you can publish your completed interactive fiction. If you have your own web site, Twine stories can be published there.

If you loved the choose your own adventure books from a few years ago, this is the modern version of that type of storytelling.

Twine can be used to create more than stories. It can create games, puzzles, and role-playing games. It’s meant for game designers and game players who have lots of ideas of their own for exciting games. (I think it would also be a great way for people who love to write fan fiction to work their way into a more high tech approach to storytelling.)

In terms of writing advice, the book talks about story structure, character building, creating settings, balancing pacing and action, keeping players engaged, and the all important storytelling rule to “show, don’t tell.”

The approach to the software used in the book is step by step. You should read the book with Twine open on your computer so you can try out all the ideas and suggestions and learn how to write in the Twine languages.

The book instructs in the use of macros in a choice of Twine languages. It also explains how to create variables, conditional statements, and arrays. With the help of macros for history, either, random, click, mouseover, prompt, count, append, prepend, replace, remove and more, a user can create a complex and exciting interactive world. There are built-in Twine functions to control turns, display, actions and more.

A Twine writer can use HTML and some CSS to change fonts, backgrounds, sidebars, links and more. You can import Google fonts with the stylesheet. Twine lets you add images to your story.

If you are interested in creating interactive fiction or games that you can easily share with others, you should take a look at Twine as your software tool. This book will make you an expert user with an easy to follow, step-by-step approach.

Summary: Melissa Ford shows you how to create a game or puzzle using Twine software, and helps you be a better writer in the process.

A review by Virginia DeBolt of Writing Interactive Fiction with Twine (rating: 5 stars)

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. Opinions are my own. Links to Amazon are affiliate links. Here is my review policy.

W3C’s WAI Creates Perspectives Videos for Accessibility Understanding

an image of a man with burned toast

Just as we all like different degrees of doneness in our toast, users need to be able to change the way text is displayed — changing the size, spacing, font, color, and more — in order to read the text. When text is changed, no information or functionality should be lost, the text should re-flow, and users shouldn’t have to scroll horizontally to read sentences.

A wonderful new resource from the W3C is a set of very short videos called Web Accessibility Perspectives. The videos take a particular aspect of web accessibility such as keyboard compatibility or clear layout and design and show how they are essential for people with disabilities and useful for everyone.

I picked one at random, the text to speech one, to share here. There are 10 videos in all. They are perfect for use in a class about accessibility or just for learning something about web accessibility if you’re trying to understand it yourself.