#CANChangeRatio: The Journey Continues

Ashley Graf
04 January 2017

Want a future in tech? These girls are thinking about it.



So what is #CANChangeRatio? Here's a rehash.

THE PURPOSE OF #CANCHANGERATIO

The purpose of Coder Factory Academy’s partnership with Commonwealth Bank, better known as the #CANChangeRatio program, is to guide girls from high schools to the STEM workforce through industry knowledge, support, and mentoring for those interested in choosing technology subjects or pursuing a career in tech.

The in-school, term-long program facilitated by our expert trainers introduces the girls and their teachers to coding web applications...and if they’re super keen, further support to develop their ideas after the scheduled training finishes.

Our core aim? To attract and retain women in technology, as well as guide teachers on how to implement Digital Literacy into their lessons, regardless of the subject they specialise in.

COMMBANK’S SUPPORT

With CommBank as our key partner in this initiative, our students receive endless support and insight into the tech industry. Employees from multiple technology and digital-focussed departments within CBA attend our girls’ graduations, and the ceremonies are lead by senior staff.

The three major supporters of #CANChangeRatio that make this whole thing possible (huge thanks to you all!) are Subha Chari, Lisa Harrison, and Peter Steele.

#CANChangeRatio initially began as the brainchild of Subha Chari, who coordinated the girls’ excursions and also provided some mentoring. Lisa Harrison also lended a hand in coordination, and has promoted the program both within CBA and in the community at large.

The program is primarily sponsored by the Digital Team, through the support of its General Manager Peter Steele.

WHAT WE’VE ACHIEVED IN 2016

Our initial pilot program launched in 2016 with 27 students from Bankstown Girls High School. The program was a huge success, hence the decision to expand to more schools.

Three additional schools have joined our Bankstown cohort as #CANChangeRatio graduates since. With the flawless coordination of Sally Browner, Subha, and Lisa, each school has successfully developed a web application that tackles an issue facing their school’s community. Perhaps unsurprisingly, as with Bankstown Girls, each school thus far has chosen to address different elements of inter-school communication.

On top of the hands-on, practical coding skills we focus on, the girls also experience excursions at some of Sydney’s top tech companies like Airbnb, Dropbox, Google, Hey You!, with more to come in the future.

Here are some examples of what the students have worked on together:

 

Blacktown Girls

View and add upcoming events, exam schedule for all years, a student/teacher forum

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Sarah Redfern

School wiki with resources, filtered by year and subject

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St John’s Park

Community noticeboard: view school events, access local job listings, add your organisation, discuss school issues, talk to fellow students or teachers, and/or create a profile.

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After diligent research into how to inspire women to pursue STEM, recruiting more female trainers for the program has been a high priority of ours. We were fortunate to have Sheena Takkenberg (Fast Track Bootcamp graduate and former ESL teacher), and Nandini Naya (our super versatile Fast Track teaching assistant) on board for the rollout of the program. Currently 76% of the #CANChangeRatio teachers are women, and we are aiming to have a female teacher at every school. We’re delighted to announce they’ll be joined by another four women trainers in 2017!

THE FRUITS OF SUCCESS

Over only the last five months, we have introduced 81 high school girls to programming.

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On graduation day, the girls toured CommBank’s Innovation Lab, heard inspiring speeches from senior staff at CBA, and gave their own presentations on how the program changed their outlooks. They had the opportunity to women in a variety of technology roles about what it’s like to work at CommBank and in tech more generally.

COMING UP

With only 15 spots available for Semester One this year, our expectations of demand were surpassed as 30+ schools applied.

So far, the following eight schools are enrolled for Term One, with six more launching the program in Term Two.

IT DOESN’T STOP WHEN THE PROGRAM ENDS

Some of the most enthusiastic students have the opportunity to intern with Jamie Cerexhe, teacher of the pilot program and Dev Haus X Engineering Manager. Through this experience, they get to see what it’s like to work at a development agency, and also contribute a few applications themselves. We're proud to announce that another student from Bankstown Girls participated at an internship with CommBank.

It has been suggested to schools during graduation that If they take note of particularly keen students, they should encourage the girls to jump at these extra opportunities. We anticipate more students applying in the future. CBA and Coder Factory Academy are also in the process of exploring a number of ways to increase the sustainability of the program by creating coding clubs throughout Sydney's west. We believe the region has ample supply of untapped potential, and look forward to working with more teachers and girls in 2017!


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