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ConnecTech tackles the gender gap in tech with all girls’ coding camp

Hamilton, April 9, 2018 – ConnecTech’s first Django Girls coding camp concluded on Friday, April 6, 2018 with a showcase at the tech incubator’s purpose-built space on Cedar Avenue in Hamilton.

A dozen girls from Bermuda’s public school system attended the one-week camp funded by Hamilton insurance Group (“Hamilton”), a Bermuda-based insurer and reinsurer leveraging data science and analytics to advance the science of underwriting. Django Girls expert instructor Rebecca Conley trained the group in web development skills and taught the girls to build their own blog or website from scratch using coding languages Django, HTML, CSS and Python.

Group picture from left to right: Jasmine Scaife, Mya Swan, Ciarra Wells, Siniah Lambe, Christina Leverock, Priel Minors, Rebecca Conley (Instructor), Minister Rabain, Israel Furqan, Coral Wells, Savannah Tavares, Elektra Smith, Lia Smith, Azari Easton and Celine Smith-Martin.

In the US, the software development field is typically dominated by men, according to Department of Labour statistics. Bermuda data are hard to come by, but the field is one of several recognised by the Department of Statistics as facing a shortage of Bermudians in general.

ConnecTech founder Coral Wells said: “This is just the first of many initiatives specifically intended to help close the gender gap in tech by introducing software development skills to young girls and women. Thanks to Hamilton’s sponsorship, 12 primary and middle school students from across the Island were able to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Mrs. Wells added: “We are excited to have Rebecca teaching the first of at least three Django Girls coding camps for our public school girls. The next camp is planned for the summer and we will once again be reaching out to the public schools for recommendations for students to participate.”

“Certainly, we know that the demand for skilled developers is only going to increase. As Bermuda’s only technology training centre, we want to ensure that our people are ready for the opportunities and our girls get a fair chance,” Mrs Wells said.

Members from Hamilton’s Community Giving Committee viewing one of the student blogs. Pictured from left to right: Israel Furqan, Keith Bernhard, Neila Cabral and Lia Smith.

Dellwood Middle School student, Mya Swan,13, plans to further her skills at ConnecTech and with online classes. She said: “It made me realize that coding could be a career and there’s so much to do that involves coding. It’s a hard skill to learn but it’s fun because you get to put your website and the fruits of your struggle on the internet.”

Minister of Education and Workforce Development the Hon. Diallo Rabain, JP, MP stopped by to see the projects created by the girls this week.
Minister Rabain said: “I am always delighted to see programmes that encourage young people to prepare themselves for tomorrow. These young ladies are benefitting from a ground-floor understanding of a discipline that is part of a sought-after skill.

“Digital literacy and proficiency is part of the 21st Century version of ‘reading, writing and arithmetic’. Coding is an element of that and therefore this programme is useful to identify young people who may have an interest.”

Hamilton Re CEO Kathleen Reardon said: “At Hamilton, software development is a critical skill that enables our ability to achieve our mission of writing the future of risk. Our investment in programmes like Django Girls is an investment in Bermuda’s future workforce, and we’re delighted that 12 young women have had a chance to explore the opportunities this exciting field could offer them.”

Mya Swan

Ms Conley said: “The girls did well – all completed their projects on time and, importantly, learned some life skills along the way. Coding is a form of literacy which demands discipline, creativity and iterative learning. Important learning and breakthroughs happen through failure – when something doesn’t work, so it’s not your typical classroom experience.

Participating schools were: Sandys Middle School, Clearwater Middle School, Dellwood Middle School, Gilbert Primary School, Heron Bay, St George’s Primary and Warwick Primary School.

Participating students were: Priel Minors, Elektra Smith, Israel Furqan, Mya Swan, Azari Easton, Jasmine Scaife, Savannah Tavares, Siniah Lambe, Celine Smith-Martin, Ciarra Wells, Lia Smith and Christina Leverock.

 

About CONNECTECH

Bermuda’s first technology training center and entrepreneurship incubator, CONNECTECH officially launched in 2016. The facility offers co-working spaces for entrepreneurs, startups, freelancers and creative teams, along with various training classes. ConnecTech is located on the second floor of Cedar House on 41 Cedar Avenue.

www.connectech.bm

To set up interviews/photo shoots: A. Johnson 704-2965

 

About Hamilton Insurance Group

Hamilton Insurance Group is the Bermuda-based holding company for insurance and reinsurance operations that underwrite property and casualty risks in Bermuda, the U.S. and at Lloyd’s. The company leverages analytics and research to create underwriting and investment value for its clients and shareholders. For more information, please visit www.hamiltongroup.com