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Girls can fill 1,000 coding jobs, says Go Berserk creator

By Laura Abernethy

Published 01/09/2015

At the launch of the Go Berserk programme are First Minister Peter Robinson, Amy McCormick, a Year 8 pupil at Wellington College, and James McAleese, a P5 pupil from Loughview Integrated Primary School
At the launch of the Go Berserk programme are First Minister Peter Robinson, Amy McCormick, a Year 8 pupil at Wellington College, and James McAleese, a P5 pupil from Loughview Integrated Primary School

Girls are better at coding than boys despite the lack of women in computer science, according to a top Northern Irish IT education company.

Go Berserk creator Ian Simmons found that girls were slightly better at picking up the skill than their male peers in a report for Stranmillis College.

The company produces books and resources for children as young as eight to teach them computer programming.

From tomorrow, the Belfast Telegraph will be giving away booklets based on their award-winning products to help children to make their own website.

The importance of encouraging young children to code has become more and more evident in recent years.

It is estimated that almost 1,000 jobs in Northern Ireland can't be filled as people do not have the skills to code.

Many developers are particularly keen to see more women gain the skills as the industry is male-dominated.

In 2013-14, only 14% of those starting undergraduate degrees in computer science in the UK were female.

But after looking at pilot programmes in six primary schools, three post-primary schools and an education centre, Mr Simmons found that girls could code quicker.

He said: "When we did an analysis of what they had done in the report, girls were marginally better than boys.

"That's a strange thing because as the years go on, the IT industry is crying out for girls and women to join the profession.

"The percentage of women in the industry is so low and I can't understand that.

"If you can give kids the chance to develop these skills - and especially girls - and let them see that they are good at this, there are fabulous career opportunities for them.

"That's great for the profession but it's great for females all around the globe."

Dawn McMaster has been using the Go Berserk programme to teach coding to her Year 8 pupils for the last three years.

She said she noticed many of the girls had a great aptitude for computer programming.

"The vast majority of our pupils found it really really easy," she said.

"The nice thing was that a lot of the girls really took to it.

"Obviously in the world of computing, it's not perceived really as a girl's thing but a lot of our girls took to it much easier than our boys and produced really wonderful websites."

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