North Vancouver School District
the natural place to learn©
Jan 09
Hacking goes to the gals
By Devon Sacré​, Student, Capilano University

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Students from Windsor Secondary School take part in a nation-wide hackathon on December 12, 2018.

Imagine your computer breaks down and is unresponsive. You’ve exhausted your own troubleshooting techniques, have put your pride aside, and you finally bring it in to get it fixed. When you enter the store, who do you imagine is behind the desk? You are probably picturing a man, right? The organization Hackergal, along with a group of girls from three schools in the North Vancouver School District, is trying to change that.

In 2016, women made up 66 per cent of university graduates. Despite this majority, they are still underrepresented in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields, making up 22 per cent. Even more surprisingly, according to Statistics Canada, of the women graduating with a degree in the STEM fields, only 30 per cent of those aged 25-34 graduated with a degree in Computer Sciences.

Hackergal has made it their goal to change this. Hackergal is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to introducing young girls to computer coding, and to level the inequality in technology fields. 

Thirty-two girls at three different schools in the North Vancouver School District recently took part in a 6-week Hackergal program. The schools involved were Ridgeway Elementary, Highlands Elementary, and Windsor Secondary. The program enabled the students to meet others with similar interests, collaborate, learn how to code computer programs, and learn how to debug and fix problems on  computers. 

Some of the students thought they wouldn’t be interested to start. 

“I think we all joined initially for the free food. But once we actually started working, it was much more fun than we all expected," admitted Kassidy, a Windsor Secondary student.

A group of ten grade 8 Windsor students took part in the Hackergal program, supported by teachers Lisa Ottenbreit and Cara Lightman.


“It was a great opportunity to meet new people,” said Erica, a Windsor student. 

Since the program was only girls it was an easy place for the students to get out of their comfort zones and to be creative. 

“It was fun to learn something new,” said Rachel, a Windsor student.

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Windsor students, along with teachers Lisa Ottenbreit and Cara Lightman at the Hackathon on December 12, 2018.

At the end of the 6 week Hackergal program, all of the students from the three participating schools came together at the Education Services Centre to take part in a Hackathon. The Hackathon was a nation-wide event. Students took part in coding challenges along with girls from across Canada.

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Technology Helping Teachers Justine Frazee and Paul Clarke support students during the Hackathon.

More information about Hackergal is available on their website

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Hackaton at the Education Services Centre on December 12, 2018.



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