Coding skills remain among the most sought after in most parts of the world, yet the female share of the computing workforce is falling.
A recent report from Girls Who Code found that while 37% of computer scientists in 1995 in the US were women, only 24% were in 2017. Depressingly, that number is projected to drop to as low as 20% by 2027.
With serious implications for economies as well as the next generation of women, the battle to get girls coding is a big one, and a challenge that a number of app makers are looking to address.
One of the more interesting examples is from Swedish startup imagiLabs and its imagi app which aims to encourage girls aged 8 to 13 to dip their toes into the world of programming language Python.
The app originally started life as an academic research project, with students involved in its development, and its educational mission really shines through in the way it thoughtfully introduces basic coding concepts through digital creation and interactive art.
Remix option opens up a world of collaboration
Once up and running with some basic concepts, your kids can create pixel art designs and animations, while the app's ImagiChallenges will put their new-found coding skills to the test with a series of fun tasks which include drawing their favorite food, and recreating familiar game characters.
Finished designs can be shared as downloadable backgrounds and stickers, while you can also share your artwork within the app's community, receiving feedback and engaging with fellow young programmers.
The Remix function meanwhile lets users collaborate with others – a quick tap of the swirl icon next to a design allows you to put a unique spin on someone else's code.
There’s also the option of showing off your masterworks in the real world with imagiLabs’ imagiCharm – a programmable toy accessory that was recently released by the Scandinavian company.
With its friendly interface and a plethora of imaginative tools, imagi offers a much-needed pathway for making programming accessible to young would-be coders.
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Kevin Lynch is a London-born, Dublin-based writer and journalist.
He started out as a music writer in the late 1990s, before moving to the Daily Mirror to become the newspaper’s technology editor, during which time he wrote a weekly column that saw him chart the boom of consumer tech and gaming as well as the resurrection and rise of Apple Inc.
He has also served as editor of GuinnessWorldRecords.com and has been a member of the judging panel for the BAFTA British Academy Video Game Awards.