Hopscotch is an app designed for the iPad that has been released in beta and is free for download. It has been created with the purpose of teaching kids from 8-12 the joys of rudimentary coding where they try to make programming concepts as visual, bright and fun as possible, rather than boring with actual code and strict syntax. While developed for both boys and girls in mind, Hopscotch’s founders, Jocelyn Leavitt and Samantha John, are hoping that this app will help bring more girls to the world of programming.
They claim that while boys might get into programming because of their love for video games, girls might be driven by other motivations, with John stating that “Girls love creating things,” and have created the app to be bright, cute and fun to attract girls, without the overall app feeling too “girly”. Getting children to learning programming at a young age these days seems to be a hot topic, a move which seems to be supported by the United States president, Barack Obama himself. At the same time, many programmers, at least on the surface, seem to be represented by males, begging the question if programming might seem more like a guy’s activity, rather than a girl’s.
I asked the opinion of Ubergizmo’s co-founder Hubert Nguyen, who is a former software developer, and in his opinion, the ratio between male/female in the programming industry has more to do with social norms rather than any genetic or gender-related background. There are clearly excellent female programmers. There’s also the issue that being with a bunch of “coders” isn’t always the most friendly environment for smart women who have other professional options. The same is true in other “male-dominated” industries.
But for now, figures from the Bureau of Labor show that as far as programmer employment is concerned, males outweigh females in that industry and this is a trend that the developers behind Hopscotch are hoping to change. What do you guys think? Any parents out there planning to give the app a go?