10 May Half The Sky, Half the Wealth: How learning blockchain benefits girls
By Katie Bowden, Global Women in Blockchain Associate
There are all sorts of studies on how mental exercise is just as important as physical, and there aren’t many activities more cognitively demanding than programming (Adamson). Elementary school-aged children especially have seen a flourishing of websites and programs aimed at developing their skills early, with apps such as Daisy the Dinosaur and Tynker.com marketing to children ages seven and up.
For young girls especially, this effort can be helpful in overcoming implicit biases that measurably affect their performance in STEM-related fields. Closing the gender gap in blockchain especially proves to be a daunting feat, as women as a whole occupy only 5 percent of the overall crypto space and market (Sabety).
On top of creating a more even distribution of wealth, involving more women in the cryptocurrency market (now worth millions) would increase female involvement in the field of computer science overall: an amalgamation of science, technology, engineering and math skills used to run computerized systems and solve their unique glitches. There is also the more pressing issue of diversity, of making sure women are represented within a growing industry from the ground up.
The building blocks of coding coincide with many of the basics of elementary school learning: soft skills such as perseverance, and more technical ones such as understanding mathematical variables and conditions (Catapult Learning). Coding within or outside of Blockchain is also part of the growing field of computer science, which is estimated to grow at a rate of 13 percent into 2026, and involve salaries ranging from $69,000 to $118,000 (BLS).
Beginning STEM education in elementary school helps to combat stereotypes where they start: early on in life. ‘Stereotype threat’ is an observed phenomenon where, say, “a female student taking a math test experiences an extra cognitive and emotional burden of worry related to the stereotype that women are not good at math” (Hill). Adding coding skills to their repertoire early on can help combat these stereotypes more effectively. Some websites designed to teach computer code easily include the website Made With Code (created specifically with girls in mind,) and Coda Game—an app that uses visual coding blocks to teach instead of text (Lynch).
Learning cryptography at any age is a challenging feat, but putting the building blocks in place early on can help streamline success for girls and women interested in computing. The field is experiencing an increasing gender gap even as it rapidly expands (Galvin). And for women retroactively interested in the field following the Bitcoin boom, coding is not an unteachable skill past the years of standard education. Given the fact that there will be 1,000,000 more programming jobs than there will be trained coders too fill them by 2020 (Vaughn), learning what now seems like insurmountably cryptic information is increasingly likely to end in your favor.
To get you or your child started, check out sites like:
Adamson, Rob. “Coding is Good for your Brain.” Medium, 21 Sept. 2018, medium.com/datadriveninvestor/coding-is-good-for-your-brain-e067063a493e. Accessed 1 May 2019.
Catapult Learning. “Why All Students Should Learn How to Code in Elementary
School.” Catapult Learning, 29 Sept. 2016, catapultlearning.com/2016/09/29/students-learn-code-elementary-school/. Accessed 1 May 2019.
Galvin, Gaby. “Study: Middle School Is Key to Girls’ Coding Interest.” U.S. News & World Report, 20 Oct. 2016, www.usnews.com/news/data-mine/articles/2016-10-20/study-computer-science-gender-gap-widens-despite-increase-in-jobs. Accessed 2 May 2019.
Hill, Catherine, Ph.D. “Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.” American Association of University Women (AAUW), www.aauw.org/research/why-so-few/. Accessed 1 May 2019.
Lynch, Matthew. “14 of the Best Coding Apps for Elementary School Students.”
The Tech Edvocate, www.thetechedvocate.org/14-best-coding-apps-elementary-school-students/.
Sabety, Setareh. “Why We Need More Women In Blockchain.” Medium, 22 Mar. 2019, medium.com/swissborg/why-we-need-women-in-blockchainb99f27a03898. Accessed 1 May 2019.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (BLS) ”Computer and Information Technology Occupations.” Bureau of Labor Statistics, 12 Apr. 2019, www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm. Accessed 1 May 2019.
Vaughn, VM. “I’m learning to code at 56. Here’s an epic beat-down of my critical inner self.” Medium, 14 Dec. 2016, medium.freecodecamp.org/yes-im-56-and-learning-to-code-f33abea6fd4c. Accessed 2 May 2019.