Women in STEM

Free, girls-only com­puter science course be­ing of­fered this Jan­uary in Wolfville


A com­puter science course is of­fer­ing a free girls-only class this year, look­ing to in­spire them to take on tech and plug into the pos­si­bil­i­ties it could of­fer them.

Re­fresh An­napo­lis Val­ley has of­fered its Cre­ative Com­put­ing course to kids ages eight through 12 for a few years, and has made it free to join this year.

Kids in­ter­ested in sign­ing up can choose be­tween co-ed classes, and one just for girls — some­thing com­pany founder Michael Ca­plan says is be­cause there are still more men than women in the STEM-re­lated fields of science, technology, en­gi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics.

“The re­al­ity is you can’t be neu­tral on a mov­ing train — our cul­ture pri­or­i­tizes men and boys op­er­at­ing within STEM spa­ces. The game is skewed — it’s not neu­tral. So we’re try­ing to neu­tral­ize it by giv­ing greater op­por­tu­ni­ties to girls who are typ­i­cally crowded out,” says Ca­plan. Ca­plan says the course is de­signed to of­fer those par­tic­i­pat­ing a deeper knowl­edge and un­der­stand­ing of com­puter science that stretches be­yond what pub­lic school cur­ricu­lums cover.

This year’s pro­gram will be­gin in Jan­uary, when stu­dents will be­gin par­tic­i­pat­ing in a weekly course for three months where they’ll work to build their own orig­i­nal in­ter­ac­tive art­work, sto­ries and video games — all of which Ca­plan says is a “step­ping stone to the more ad­vanced world of com­puter science.”

“We want to build a strong co­hort of young girls and women go­ing through com­puter sciences so we can get those few girls ap­ply­ing to a point where par­ents are equally ex­cited for their girls, as they are for boys, to join this pro­gram,” says Ca­plan.

Ca­plan hopes more girls sign up this year, since re­cruit­ing them has been chal­leng­ing in past years.

He also points to re­search and data that show pos­i­tive role mod­els are the surest ways of giv­ing young women tan­gi­ble goals they can see, and strive to­wards, within the STEM field.

“We want to see a larger in­dus­try shift, as other coun­tries are see­ing a cul­ture shift. There’s noth­ing that ad­van­tages boys over girls in this field — if any­thing, women out­per­form men,” he says.

For more in­for­ma­tion about Cre­ative Com­put­ing or to reg­is­ter, visit https://www.re­fre­shan­napolis­val­ley.org/.


A group of girls at a past Re­fresh An­napo­lis Val­ley event team up to com­plete the task at hand. RAV founder Michael Ca­plan said the tech or­ga­ni­za­tion is of­fer­ing its Cre­ative Com­put­ing course for free this year — with reg­is­tra­tion open un­til Jan. 2 — and will have a class ded­i­cated to teach­ing girls only.


Re­fresh An­napo­lis Val­ley founder Michael Ca­plan says the ex­ist­ing cul­ture pri­or­i­tizes men and boys op­er­at­ing within STEM spa­ces, so he’s hop­ing to give girls more op­por­tu­ni­ties.


Re­fresh An­napo­lis Val­ley founder Michael Ca­plan wants to see “a larger in­dus­try shift, as other coun­tries are see­ing a cul­ture shift.”

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