Girlguiding Paisley and YMCA join forces to get girls coding

STEM for Girls Paisley

Paisley YMCA, 3rd South Rainbows & 33rd Paisley Brownies have joined together to help girls get into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects. 

Paisley YMCA has developed an award-winning youth program that focuses on digital literacy and exploits the use of disruptive technologies. It runs weekly code clubs and digital skills workshops.

Paisley YMCA noticed that a significant majority of the young people who attended these clubs were male (90%).

To address this gender imbalance, Darran Gillan, the Youth & Community Development Manager at Paisley YMCA, got funding to start a STEM for Girls club.

In their research Girls in Scotland, Girlguiding Scotland revealed that 52% of girls aged 11-21 thought STEM subjects were more for boys. In an effort to change this, last year Girlguiding Scotland launched its first digital skills badge, in partnership with Skills Development Scotland.

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The Digital Scotland Challenge badge aims to change those perceptions and teaches young girls about computers, algorithms, creativity, design, and computational thinking, as well as highlighting career options in the industry.

Paisley YMCA approached Girlguiding Paisley to offer its expertise and equipment to help girls work towards their badge.

Milly Mackinnon, Girlguiding Paisley Division Commissioner said: “We are excited to be working with YMCA Paisley to help girls achieve their badge. Their state-of-the-art premises has fabulous facilities in the centre of town.

“We are hopeful that we can extend our partnership beyond the badge and make use of their experience and facilities.

“We want to encourage Girlguiding Paisley members to think about how they can play a part in Scotland’s digital future.”

Darran Gillan said: “Through this partnership, we are debunking the myth that STEM is a boy’s subject. We hope to develop a new generation of female role models and leaders to emerge both through Paisley YMCA and Girlguiding Paisley. We are grateful that we are able to provide a comprehensive range of computer science skills that will lead some of the participants out of poverty and deprivation.”

Kerry Reilly, Chief Executive at YMCA Scotland said: “This partnership is a fantastic opportunity to close the gender gap in STEM subjects. Our digital youth work is growing across Scotland and we hope to replicate the success of the partnership in Paisley throughout the country.”