Tonight I watched the final episode (#2) of “Girls can code”, a documentary made by the BBC which is described as a “Talent show with a difference, in which five girls unleash the digital guru within themselves.”.
As a coder, I was naturally interested in the programme and watched episode 1 on my lunch break last week. I was disappointed and tweeted the presenter of the documentary. You can read the Twitter exchange .
Following that conversation, I decided to wait until I had seen the 2nd and final episode before passing any more judgement. I’ve just finished watching and I have to say I’m still disappointed.
Alice you have totally missed the mark with very patronising, misleading title, stereotyping, also startup!==code
— Shane Prendergast (@Webknit)
I found a medium post which was written by Alex, my new Twitter friend (), who is one of the high profile women who starred in the documentary. She had made her points in there so I’m now countering them in here. These are just some of the sentences I picked up on.
For the record, apart from my gripes above, I quite liked the programme. I hope it raises awareness and gets more people (male or female) involved in tech, or even coding if they want! Besides my points I feel like the BBC missed a fantastic opportunity to actually educate more people about coding (or tech if they changed the title)!
“Only about 5% has been negative”
With me being a coder I follow lots of other developers on Twitter and my feed was overwhelmingly negative. A quick search of the hashtag tells me that it’s certainly not 95% positive.
“but the title is the hook”
It is a misleading hook.
“From an entertainment point of view I’m not sure how scintillating it would be to watch people write lines of code”
If it’s not scintillating does that mean it’s boring? For me, coding – and everything it entails – is very “scintillating” and I find it hugely entertaining, as do my colleagues and other people who code. I’m confident that I could make a documentary explaining the wonders of code and how it works to folk that have never wrote a line of code in their life.
“or how successful that would be in getting young women to think about a digital career”
A digital career involves a hell of a lot more than coding which reinforces my point that it should have been #girlswhotech or simply #anyonecantech or even simplier #anyonecandoanythingiftheyputtheeffortin
“I think the show was good at demonstrating that there’s so much more to technology than just coding.”
“as this is exactly what many girls are doing — coding”
Many girls are coding, the girls in the show aren’t! It’s insulting to girls who do actually code.
“Here’s the biggie: are we being sexist by centering the show on girls? Surely it’s an issue with boys/men too? Of course it is, but you have to start somewhere!”
Girls/females/women can do anything. Generally speaking anyone can get into code/tech/whatever they want. I realise you’re trying to encourage women to get involved in tech but I don’t like this male/female battle thing. This tweet sums my thoughts up perfectly
girls can do whatever they heck they like
— Emily (@emharrisonx)
“I felt vulnerable and nervous”
I couldn’t tell, you came across brilliantly and I was really inspired by you, and all the other females who appeared on the show.
“we have received just one CV from a woman seeking a developer role”
That’s because not enough women can code! Not tech! CODE!
“Consider that we currently have 4 open roles for engineers and we’ve have been trying to fill these roles for 6 months and you can see we have a skills crisis”
What’s the salary?
“I am not just talking about the opportunity here for women, this is an opportunity for all”
But the doc focused solely on women, was this mentioned in the show?
“I think BBC3 did a great job here — it piqued your interest”
It did. Then left it severely underwhelmed and disappointed.
“However, don’t let the main point be missed by dogmatism or pedantics about language — tech is here and the UK is leading the field.”
TECH is indeed here, so too is coding in case anyone wants to know about that.
“Hopefully the show will lift the lid off the world of technology and make young women realise that there’s a place for them in it. Because Girls Can.”
Absolutely! Women/girls/females really can and I have – and always will – push tech and everything it entails (even code) to anyone who’s interested in knowing more.