FTC Disclosure: I participated in Dice’s Hour of Code event on December 9th, 2014. I have been compensated to discuss my experiences and thoughts in relation to this event. In accordance with my blog disclosure statement, I will only work with and showcase products and/or companies I believe my readers will benefit from. All views contained in this article are mine. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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Representing women in technology and science begins with raising girls to become a part of those fields. ~ Lexi Herrick, Marketer for Global Technology Company

You may not know this, but I am a sucker for science and technology. Before I started down the road of studying behaviors in the workplace and my career in HR, I was biochemistry major with aspirations of becoming a forensic pathologist. As a teen, I took science classes long after it was still required for me to do so. I often went to county finals with my science fair projects and participated in my high school’s Intel program. It is fair to say that I had a natural affinity for science early on in life. However, I am sure that my fascination and curiosity may not have been as robust- if I was not introduced to science and technology at an early age; while also being given the chance to explore my abilities in this area.

I ultimately gave up the hard science for a soft science discipline, but have never lost my scientific edge. Now that I have two little girls and a boy, I will not miss the opportunity to spark that same wonder for science that I possessed at a young age. This is why I was so excited to work with Dice on their Hour of Code event in NYC earlier this week.

Dice in conjunction with Code.org put on an event in support of coding called a #HourofCode. The idea is to get kids to spend at least an hour coding in hopes that it will spark an interest and appreciation for the Computer Science field. With Computer Science slated to inspire some of the most essential jobs of the 21st century, it is clear that we must get kids engaged earlier and on a consistent basis in STEM learning. Code.org has made the learning part easy and fun by creating free coding exercises on their website that not only exhibit beloved characters that kids are already familiar with, but encourages them to code simply.

Did you know?

Only 4.9% of all Bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science in 2010 were awarded to women?  More importantly, less than 2.4% of college students overall graduate with a degree in Computer Science, and the numbers have dropped since last decade. There will be 1.4 million computing jobs to be filled by 2020 according to Code.org. We have a STEM shortage and crisis on our hands.

Courtesy of Dice.com

Courtesy of Dice.com

It was an amazing experience to be able to learn with and champion my daughter as she progressed through the Frozen™coding exercise. It starts off simple enough to grab their attention but also presents the right amount of challenge as you get to higher level puzzles to allow the child to critically think through creating the proposed scenario. In case you hadn’t heard, a lack of critical thinking is a common complaint from primary school through post-graduation- our kids are being starved of creative and critical thinking so much so-that it is nearly non-existent by the time they are looking for jobs.

In November, Dice reported that job postings seeking candidates with Hadoop experience are up 43%. There are currently 2,192 Hadoop-related job postings on Dice. Further proof that we need to be inspiring next generation STEM Enthusiasts.

It’s clear that we need a bigger push for STEM learning in our schools. However, I’m also a firm believer that you cannot force a child to be what you want them to be. That said, I think it is my job as a parent to provide a varied enough sampling of activities to allow my daughter to find her strengths, weaknesses, and passions. Dice is passionate about inspiring future leaders in STEM which is why they asked me and all of their employees to participate in this event with their children. How smart and cool!

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Event Swag Alert: For those of you that have attended other Dice events- you know they usually spare no expense when it comes to their gifts. Guests received a cool, sling backpack full of fun Dice-branded goodies.

I encourage each of you to try an hour of code and share it with the young people in your life. You will be surprised at what you can do. Who knows you may even find a new hobby while you’re at it.

Need some more convincing? Check out the video below from some familiar faces in support of the “Hour of Code.

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