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Meet the 13-year-old leading the way into STEM

Coding from the age of 7 made Avye determined to inspire and encourage young girls like her to see the world of STEM as an exciting space to be part of. At only 10-years-old she founded ‘Girls Into Coding’, a series of events targeting girls aged 10-14 after repeatedly observing that the majority of attendees at the workshops she joined were boys. Now at the age of 13, Avye is on a mission to engage at least 1000 girls every year with the opportunity to learn how to code and develop digital and making skills through fun and engaging workshops.

1. Tell us about Girls into Coding and how you came to the idea of founding it?

Girls Into Coding was an idea that I had when I was 10. At this point, I had moved from attending workshops at Coderdojo to preparing and delivering them myself at the Kingston University Dojo and at other community events.

After repeatedly observing that most attendees at my workshops were boys, it bothered me that loads of other girls were missing out on a fun learning experience. I wanted to help girls to access these events and was determined to encourage more girls to get into STEM. As a result, I decided to set up Girls Into Coding - a series of events targeting girls and encouraging them to explore and enjoy STEM subjects and to encourage them to pursue further STEM activities, education, and careers. Girls and women are under-represented and our generation has a chance to change that. Girls Into Coding is my way of contributing to that change.

2. Which areas of STEM do you cover in your workshops?

The workshops cover coding, physical computing, robotics, and 3D printing. As well as participating in hands-on workshops, the girls have an opportunity to listen to lightning talks throughout the day, delivered by inspiring female role models who are doing cool stuff in the tech world.

3. Why do you think it’s so important for girls to see others like them and be represented in STEM?

It is important for other girls to see a range of tech activities, opportunities, roles, and events being enjoyed, organised, driven, and normalised by someone just like them.

We need to create that feeling of “Wow, I can do that too!” because when the person doing that exciting project is a girl just like you, it makes it all the easier to visualise yourself doing something similar.

4. Do you think being represented will have an impact on future STEM careers for women?

Yes, I think representation is key. That's why it’s so important that existing women in tech roles keep talking about their experiences and encouraging young women and girls to get involved. The more visible these women and girls are, the more they talk about their journeys into STEM, the clearer those paths become for girls taking their first steps. We also need the media to be more involved in the STEM space. Using the media to spotlight emerging and already visible & accessible role models is a must.

5. Why do you think STEM is currently male-dominated?

Tech is seen as a ‘boy thing’ and there’s not enough visible female role models that are put into the limelight which we must all strive to change. It is important that we work together to create an environment where women and girls feel equally valued and have a sense of belonging in the world of STEM.

6. When did you become interested in coding?

I started coding and attending physical computing workshops at 7. In these workshops, I was introduced to Scratch, a block-based visual programming language, the Microbit, a pocket-sized micro-controller, and the Raspberry Pi computer. I loved how I could use code to move things on the screen or to control electronic components. These workshops were fun, so I began going to loads of similar events and continued to explore what I was learning at home.

7. What are your career goals?

I do not have a particular career goal. I will probably own my company or work in the Tech industry in a job that probably does not exist yet! I think it is important to have fun in whatever you do no matter what you do. So whatever career or careers I choose, I hope to have a fun journey and to keep learning.

8. You’re an Arm Ambassador which is part of the GenArm2Z programme, what does this involve?

The GenArm2Z program enables young ambassadors to talk to tech leaders about how technology is being used & shaped for the future. We also work collaboratively, alongside Arm mentors on Tech for good projects. Our latest project will be revealed on October 8th at the Arm Dev Summit.

9. What's next for Girls into Coding?

We now aim to engage at least 1000 girls each year with our fun, challenging, and engaging workshop events. For the widest range of girls to benefit from these opportunities we want to continue delivering them at no cost to the attendees. We are driven to get more girls into Tech so we are always looking for new partners to sponsor Girls Into Coding. This enables us to continue to offer even more girls these opportunities.

10. Do you have any advice for young women and girls who are interested in STEM?

Don’t be afraid of trying it and don’t feel intimidated just because it might be seen as something that mainly boys and men do. Sometimes you have to be that person who takes the lead. Just be the person who goes for it and who doesn’t think about what other people would think or how they might react. Join a Tech or STEM club at school or outside of school. It’s important to see what other makers & technologists are doing. It can give you ideas!

Written by Stacey Soluade

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