BY TATYANA NYBORG CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Women make up half of the United States workforce, but hold only 25 per cent of the jobs in technical and computer fields. The United States Department of Labor projects that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings. Yet, the U.S. universities are expected to produce only enough qualified graduates to fill 29 percent of these jobs. “Learn to Code” is one of the non-profit organizations, formed in Tulsa, Okla., in 2015, which recognizes gender inequality in computing careers and the growing demand for computer specialists. “Learn to Code” has the goal to make a change, offering HTML, CSS and Java programming or, in other words, coding classes for women and girls. Tatiana Rozzell is the “Learn to Code” founder and CEO. In the past, Rozzell wanted to enroll her middle school age daughter, Ilana Rozzell, in a coding class, but nobody was offering classes like that for youth in Tulsa and the surrounding area. Because of that, Tatiana Rozzell decided to create a non-profit organization, which will introduce girls and women to the world of computer programming. “First, I could not find an instructor to teach” she said. “I almost gave up on my idea of the organization.” “But later, I found a couple of industry professionals excited to share their knowledge with the community, and we started coding classes for girls and women in January 2015,” Rozzell continued. Rozzell asked public organizations and private businesses to provide their computer labs for the lessons. As a result, Zarrow Library offered its facility for girl’s classes on Wednesdays, and Oaktree Software, Inc. became a place for women’s coding lessons. “In the girl’s program, our mission is to educate, inspire and equip middle and high school girls with the skills and resources to pursue opportunities in computing fields,” said Rozzell. “Learn to Code” is a volunteer effort. We can keep kids of the streets and take them from the user side of computer games into the creator side,” she added. “Children can learn and create computer games and other cyber/digital products.” There are two groups of the 6th-12th grade girls studying at “Learn to Code” currently. The first group started in January 2015 and they are working on an ongoing project of creating a website. The second group are newcomers and they began to study in the spring of 2016. Hannah Lovy, 17-years-old, and Rachel Lovy, 11-years-old, are sisters from Sapulpa, Okla., who enrolled in the coding classes recently. “I am practicing creating a web page,” said Hannah Lovy. “I do enjoy it. It is possible I will choose computer science as my college major.” “The coding class is pretty fun,” said Rachel Lovy. “I am able to write code and see how it appears on the web page. The creating part is exciting.” The women’s coding program supplies students with new skills, which they can use for a new career or hobby. The women’s class is very diversified. There are high school girls in the classes along with mature women or business owners. Rozzell stresses that learning computer coding opens a lot of self-employed or employment opportunities for women. “In our day, every business has or wants to create a website and presence on the internet and social media. The demand is huge. Someone will need to meet those needs,” she explains. “Women can do it.” Kari Hopkins is a stay at home mom and a “Learn to Code” student. “My daughter was attending the coding classes for girls,” she said. “Apparently, I became more interested than her. I have a natural curiosity for computers.” “I want to build a website for my husband’s sales job, if he decides to go back in that career,” Hopkins added. Trishia Shoeleh is an insurance agent from Skiatook, Okla. “I own three businesses,” she said. “We need to get our businesses in social media.” “I like the coding course, it is very informative,” Shoeleh concluded. Rozzell calls herself a coding enthusiast. She invested a huge amount of her time and finances into the non-profit organization, including renting a booth at a home and garden show to educate parents and women about coding opportunities. Rozzell dreams to offer more programming classes at other locations, including small towns of Oklahoma, such as Sand Springs where she lives. “Girls Who Code” and “Women Coding” are two national movements, which are growing in popularity across the United States. “Learn to Code” is its offspring in Tulsa, Okla. To make the movement grow and help reduce gender inequality in the computing professions, it takes someone who desires to support organizations like “Learn to Code” with resources and finances. “Learn to Code” currently accepts boys to take coding classes too. For more information about “Learn to Code”, go to www.learntocodeok.com.