'Girls Who Code' Class Teaches Girls Computer Programming, Self-Confidence

Wednesday, February 17th 2016, 11:18 pm
By: News On 6

Have you ever programmed your own computer game, or created an iPhone app from scratch?

A group of Tulsa middle school girls can do all that, and more, thanks to a class called Girls Who Code.

The class meets on Wednesday nights at the Zarrow Library on 51st Street. In one class, the girls are working on their own personal web pages. They've learned how to manipulate the fonts, colors and designs, using HTML and CSS.

It's like learning a whole new language, line by line, trial and error, and then seeing those creations come to life on a computer screen.

Girls Who Code is a national movement. Tulsa's chapter was created last January when business owner Tatiana Rozzell wanted to enroll her daughter, Ilana, in a coding class but realized no such thing existed.

"She was like, 'Girls have the power to do anything. But you have to learn it first,'" Ilana said of her mother.

Now, Ilana and her classmates are learning more than they ever expected; and the world needs them to keep going, Rozzell said.

"Everybody would love to hire a female engineer, but they can't find them," she said.

Census data from 2013 shows 25 percent of all computer and math jobs are filled by women, and only 20 percent of computer programmers are women.

All the girls in Wednesday's class plan to work in the computer science field in the future.

Seventh-grader Tamika Jones wants to be a programmer. Elia Jensen, 12, wants to work in healthcare information technology. Ilana wants to work in cyber security.

But, perhaps even more important than their HTML skills, what these girls are really learning is self-confidence.

"When I built one of my websites, it felt awesome," Tamiak said, beaming.

"I looked over at all, all I've done and I was like, 'Wow, I did all this,'" Ilana said. "It's amazing."

Click here to sign up for class in Tulsa

Rozzell said, by popular demand, she will open her classes to boys, hopefully by this summer.

Girls Who Code Tulsa is now enrolling girls for a beginner class. The advanced coder class, which meets on Wednesdays, is free. A coding class for adult women meets every other Monday.