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Celebrating International Women’s Day at OVO with an all-girls code club

We’re excited to celebrate International Women’s Day and are marking the occasion by running an all-girls code club, this Saturday March 10th. This event, along with all of our monthly code clubs, is part of CoderDojo’s global movement of free volunteer-led clubs, encouraging and inspiring young people to get into coding. We’ve been running these clubs for over two years, as a part of our aim to provide educational opportunities for local young people by harnessing the expertise of our tech savvy employee volunteers.

As a part of our focus on International Women’s day, we spoke to Christina Daly, Product Manager and regular CoderDojo volunteer who’s following in the footsteps of Ada Lovelace, the 19th century mathematician who developed the first computer programme in the early 1840s. She told us about her experience of code clubs and working in tech, as well as giving some handy tips for anyone looking at getting into the field.

Why did you get involved in CoderDojo?
Coding is a lot of fun and one of the best tools we can equip young people with. It doesn’t have a reputation for being creative yet people use it to create things all the time. I wanted to share my enthusiasm and show kids that you don’t just use it to build calculators and solve maths problems; you can create your own games, draw your own characters, animate them and much more.

What do you enjoy most about OVO’s CoderDojo code clubs?
At the end of each session we have a showcase and the kids get to talk about what they’ve built. Some kids are very creative, they’ll find something that works and take it in an entirely new direction like creating space invaders with unicorns instead of aliens. Others have a real passion for programming and do things you wouldn’t expect kids to be capable of. Volunteers often exclaim that they’d love to hire them! 

How did you get into a career in tech?
I first encountered coding when my friends and I found the tech syllabus boring and our teachers said we could create the school website instead. Imagine the horrible HTML websites of the early 2000s with banners and flashing multi coloured text. Needless to say, they have since replaced it. After that we created our own website and published our own stories and cartoons. I always wanted to be a writer but I decided to do a degree in engineering instead. I’m really glad I did, part of me wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it but I really like a challenge! I specialised in computer programming and started working as a programmer after I graduated. 

What opportunities have you had since starting your career in tech? Are there any interesting projects you have worked on?
I’ve moved from being a software developer to business analyst to a product manager and I’ve really enjoyed all of those jobs because I like solving problems. What most people find interesting though is my analysis of TDs (MPs) in Ireland. We pay their wages yet they often aren’t in parliament to vote on important issues. I collected all the data on which individuals and parties are the worst offenders. I also did some analysis on the representation of women in these parties and how that number had declined in recent history. I was even able to inform the government that the data they published was inaccurate and got them to change it! The idea is to make this information publicly available so that people could use it to lobby their MP and better decide who to vote for based on what they had done if previously elected.

What advice would you have for anyone interested in getting into tech as a career?
I took a traditional route but you really don’t have to. There are plenty of ways to learn programming if that’s what you want to do (like codeacademy) and there are plenty of jobs in tech that don’t require coding experience. Talk to as many people as you can and ask what they do, what they enjoy and what skills they’d recommend developing. 

Get involved:
If you know any code-curious girls (7-17-year-olds) who’d like to get involved in our International Women’s Day CoderDojo this Saturday March 10th, sign them up now.

We run monthly CoderDojos at our Bristol office, led by expert volunteers. Showcasing role models from across the business, it’s designed to encourage kids to get into technology and build their confidence. If you know any children (7-17-year-olds) who’d like to get involved you can sign them up now. Not in Bristol? Find your nearest Dojo here.