(YWCA USVI) – This spring, YWCA USVI formed a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Cybersecurity Workforce Pipeline Consortium, St. Andrew’s Church and viNGN to present CyberSaturdays, a program to introduce girls to the tools to become Cyber Defenders, at the St. Andrew’s Church Public Computer Center (PCC). The conclusion to the series was a “Scratch” camp on Saturday April 16, led by UVI Associate Professor of Computer Science College of Science and Mathematics Marc Boumedine, Ph.D.
Scratch is developed by the MIT Media Lab for the Lifelong Kindergarten Group, and allows beginners to develop interactive stories, games, and animations while learning how to become creative, use logic, collaborate and share – all essential to being a part of the online community. Anyone can learn with Scratch; it may be downloaded for free at https://scratch.mit.edu/.
According to YWCA USVI, by 2020, more than 1.4 million computing-related jobs will be available, but the U.S. currently has only 30% of the qualified applicants needed to fill them. Computer science positions typically pay close to double the average salary for other jobs, yet only 1% of girls aspire to this career. Research shows that early exposure to coding and programming can change this, but most schools do not teach these skills.
The CyberSaturdays program was designed to introduce girls to core computer science and cyber security concepts to stimulate critical thinking skills, open up opportunities and broaden their viewpoints.