Sisters of Code is the first female coding club in Cambodia, where the field of technology is heavily male-dominated. The program was established in 2019 to empower female students and support them through education so that they can reach their full potential and grow a new generation of digital creators.
“Girls can often hear that technology is not a career path for a lady,” said Mrs. Natalja Rodinova, Sisters of Code founder. “But why would we exclude 50% of the population not even giving a chance? That is what Sisters of Code wants to challenge.”
Women often feel unwelcome in the tech industry. They get negative comments about their skills, they don’t have enough role models, and they don’t get enough support. Sisters of Code helps girls grow confidence and challenges long-held gender stereotypes by providing an environment where young women can learn directly from other female instructors, encourage each other, and share in their accomplishments.
The Sisters of Code program introduces girls ages 10 – 18 to coding principles by growing their confidence step by step. The 18-week program is divided into three modules: Module 1 uses Code.org to teach students the principles of computer science and visual coding by playing educational games. Module 2 builds on this by introducing Scratch and teaching participants to build their own computer games. Lastly, Module 3 rounds out the program with a deep dive into HTML and CSS, which students will use to develop their own websites.
This project-based approach focuses on creativity, teamwork, and learning from practice, allowing students to understand how to apply coding skills can solve real problems and see real results.
In 2020, Sisters of Code was selected as a leading Solver team with MIT Solve in the Learning for Women & Girls Challenge. The program was one of seven projects in the Learning for Girls and Women category that will continue development under the guidance of MIT Solve team, with support from tech and justice leaders like Vodafone Americas Foundation, The Gulbenkian Foundation, and The Patrick J. McGovern Foundation.
“It was an amazing experience to present Sisters of Code at MIT Solve challenge in front of the international judges and meet fellow innovators from all the round the world,” said Rodionova. “The fact that Sisters of Code is selected to join the Solvers 2020 team would allow growing the Sisters of Code community accordingly to the best international standards and create new partnerships. It is an outstanding fact that Sisters of Code is the first program from Cambodia that has received such important recognition and attention.”
Sisters of Code has already made a significant impact. Over 95% of the program’s graduates say that studying coding skills was a useful experience for them. Given that the program is free, it also provides students who may have limited financial resources with the opportunity to gain skills that can open up new opportunities for them and their families.
To continue to grow Sisters of Code community in Cambodia, and develop new talents in teaching coding skills to more girls, Sisters of Code has launched the Sisters of Code Ambassadors program. The training is free for everyone who is wishing to get involved and learn how to lead training programs.
Over the next two years the organization hopes to reach as many female students as possible with a goal to double the number of female students enrolled in technology majors in Cambodia. The organization is not only expanding the technical skills of its students, but also growing their confidence as well.
“We hope that with the help of the amazing MIT Solve community we will be able to discover new possibilities to support our mission,” said Rodionova. “[We’re here] to provide a safe and supportive environment for female students to discover coding skills and grow their presence in the digital economy.”
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