Coding chit chat is everywhere. The generation Y and below among us have quickly realised that knowledge of code is soon outweighing cultural values of PhDs. This might be an exaggeration, but it is not wholly untrue. They say that any company operating today is a software one - whether it be an artist studio or a startup, the foundations of every operation lays in the 1s and 2s (and numerous other symbols). Coding bootcamps are welcoming everyone from “women and nonbinary folk” to refugees as seen in initiatives such as Node Girls and Code Your Future. Much like education itself, coding has become synonymous with empowerment and self realisation, because why shouldn’t it? Even Microsoft and the BBC are investing in the next generation the coding workforce by acknowledging the growing importance of these skills.
Meanwhile, philanthropists like Xavier Niel are trying to revolutionise traditional education paths by offering tech courses free of teachers, syllabuses and, most importantly, fees. Coding could even breathe new life into our often-neglected libraries.
But what should we be talking about in this language of the future? And can we all be part of the conversation? Despite the fact that 1 in 5 STEM students in the UK comes from a Minority Ethnic background, the tech sectors still have considerably low numbers of diverse employees, with ethnic minority men 28% less likely to work in tech-based environments than white men. While women are underrepresented at merely 21.1%.
If technology promises a future that can quite literally be written with our bare fingertips, shouldn’t we ensure that this yet unwritten reality is inclusive, diverse and fair? The possibilities of the internet and technology often carry a hope that they will not follow the same male, white, privilege dominated path that has built much of our world, and it’s up to us to make sure that path is gender equal and diverse. Is the coding craze hype or hope?