Girls Can Code: A Story of Empowerment and Education at American Corner, Agbogba

Since the 1990s, fewer women have been employed in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) professions, according to information from Accenture.
Computer coding is still overwhelmingly a male-dominated field in today’s tech-driven environment. According to Statistics, only 28.7% of people with coding abilities are women, compared to 71.3% of men. The US Embassy Ghana and Mobile is determined to bridge this wide gap in every possible way.  

On the 12th May.2023, twelve  girls from Preset Pacesetters Senior High School, a private day and boarding senior secondary institution, gathered at the American Corner, Agbogba, to learn about R Studio. 

The facilitator for the session  – Jaylexia Clark, a Fullbright scholar and PHD candidate from the University of Notre Dame, began by introducing R Studio as a statistical computing and graphics platform used by data analysts, statisticians, and scientists to analyze and visualize data. The girls were curious and eager to learn more about the tool and how it could be useful to them. She  went on to explain how R Studio could be used for data analysis, including analyzing emotions in photos, creating graphs and maps, and understanding patterns and trends. The girls were fascinated by the possibilities and eager to start coding.

At first, some of the girls were coiled in their shell  by the idea of coding, especially those who had previously expressed fear of mathematics. However, as they began working with RStudio, they quickly discovered that coding was not as difficult as they had imagined. With the help of the facilitator, the girls gained a firm grip on the basics of R Studio and started writing their first lines of code.

After learning the basics of R Studio, the girls were given a questionnaire on gender cyberbully harassment online to explore in R Studio. The questionnaire was designed to help the girls understand the prevalence and impact of gender cyberbullying and harassment online. They were encouraged to use their newfound coding skills to analyze and visualize the data in new and interesting ways. Over the course of the day, the girls continued to work on their coding projects, and by the end of the workshop, they had all gained a newfound confidence in their abilities. They had learned that girls can code, and that with the right tools and guidance, anyone can learn to code.

The girls left feeling inspired and empowered. They had learned a new skill that could be used in a wide range of industries, and they had discovered the many benefits of using RStudio for data analysis and visualization. Overall, the workshop was an excellent example of how education can empower young girls and help them to develop the skills they need to succeed in the future.