CodePlus – Encouraging Girls into ICT

11th October 2021

Posted In: So In Demand

Huawei Ireland today (11th October, 2021) announced it is joining the CodePlus programme, run by Lero, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Software in the Munster region. The programme aims to promote Science Technology Engineering and Maths education among secondary school girls to help increase talent diversity within the Information Communication Technology industry.

The programme, which first launched in 2015 and has recently been expanded, is being rolled out by Lero in partnership with Trinity College Dublin, NUI Galway and University of Limerick over the next two years.

Running over the course of 2021 and in 2022, with Huawei joining, the programme will involve a series of 20-hour coding workshops delivered over four days to schools in the Munster region. The programme expects to engage with between 5,000-5,500 school girls annually over the next two years.

The programme has greatly expanded since its inception, with over 1,000 secondary school girls taking part in the past three years. In addition, more than 2,000 girls have attended career talks, given by senior female leaders and role models. These have taken place across a number of locations, including Trinity College Dublin, secondary schools, and on-site at technology companies.

The CodePlus programme has made a considerable impact on the students’ attitudes towards Computer Science courses. A recent study carried out by Trinity College Dublin found that students who participated in the CodePlus workshops showed a significant increase in their intention to study for a degree in computer science. Almost two-thirds of the participants rated their programming ability before they undertook the CodePlus programme as “poor” or “very poor” in the same study. Similarly, 60% of the participants rated their pre-workshop Scratch knowledge as “none” or “low,” whilst it was an even higher percentage for Python with 95% of participants rating their Python knowledge as “none” or “low”.

Students on the programme can look forward to the opportunity of exploring different careers and study in the field of computer science through project-based and collaborative learning. Participants will be introduced to programming tools and technologies like MIT App inventor, Microbit, Python and Scratch in these workshops. On day 4 of the programme, the students will be developing mobile phone applications and deploying them to their own devices. Further career talks will be given by female ambassadors from Huawei and other technology companies.

Rujing Guo, Communications Manager at Huawei Ireland, said:  “While we have been promoting a more gender-balanced STEM education among third-level educational institutes, it is also of high importance to take a step further to encourage secondary school girls to get to know more about STEM education and grow interests to it. Huawei globally has many inspiring stories from our female colleagues working in R&D, in business or in cyber security. We hope their experience in the ICT industry can really shed a light for these students when thinking about their dream job in the future.”

Dr Clare McInerney, Education and Public Engagement Manager at Lero, said:

“We are delighted to run CodePlus in the Munster Region in 2021-2022 and offer female students in this area the opportunity to participate in coding sessions, interactive webinars with industry and potentially visits to industry sites as restrictions allow.

The CodePlus experience will enable students to make better-informed choices about future studies or involvement in computer science, software and technology.”

J.J. Collins, Computer Science Course Director, Head of Residencies – Immersive Software Engineering, Department of Department of Computer Science and Information Systems, University of Limerick, said: “CodePlus will transform how female students perceive software and throws open the door for them to consider the many very rewarding career options in this field. The Computer Science and Immersive Software Engineering programmes in University of Limerick welcome and support the outreach by CodePlus that will ultimately promote diversity in the software profession.”