On February 15th, Grade 7 girls descended on software giant SAP's Yaletown office, geeking out on computers and code. 60 students from 29 VSB elementary schools participated in the GIRLsmarts event, held in cooperation with UBC's Computer Science department.
The girls were exposed to coding, sound engineering and game design. Women in UBC's CS program provided assistance and gave speeches to inspire girls to enter careers that are typically dominated by men.
Women represent the majority of university graduates but only account for 39% of all STEM graduates, according to Statscan. Programs such as GIRLsmarts aim to break down the stigmas attached to careers such as programming and game development.
"I had so little exposure to computer science when I was younger," says Kelsey Allen, a UBC student volunteer at the event. "It was not until university that I realized just how cool computers were."
Allen was among a number of volunteers who gave speeches encouraging girls and companies to embrace female employees. She's committed to working for an institution that promotes programs like GIRLsmarts, hoping to help young women realize their potential in technological fields.
At the end of the day, GIRLsmarts received rave reviews from the students.
"I hope you don't mind I needed to give you a 6 out of 5," wrote one Grade 7 student on a feedback form.
GIRLsmarts' programs are also offered for Grade 6 students.
For more information on how to enrol students in GIRLsmarts: click here.