Although many current and future professions require coding abilities, some may find the learning curve too steep. In addition, many perceive that the tech sector is too inaccessible – a feeling that is more common among girls and women who, despite recent progress, remain underrepresented in the industry, which has a bottleneck effect on the development of the tech sector as a whole.
At Amazon Sweden, we are confident that increased diversity, inclusion and representation will foster a more innovative environment that will be beneficial for everyone, and inevitably make way for brilliant creations. But we recently found ourselves wondering how we could contribute to this vision of an inclusive tech space in practice. We quickly realized that an important step was to make sure that we share our knowledge of and resources in tech, especially with the younger generation, and shortly thereafter the idea of an after-school tech program, Techfritids, was born.
You’re probably wondering what the word means. It’s a combination of words in Swedish, where tech means the same as in English, and fritids, which is similar to ‘kindergarten’. Techfritids is a newly launched initiative which aims to spark and increase interest around technology and programming amongst youths. At our first session at Amazon Sweden’s headquarters, we welcomed 80 tech-interested girls and their parents to a coding workshop. After an introduction to the programming language Python, the girls got to implement their new skills alongside friends and family. By making coding an enjoyable and social activity, the initiative intends to lower the bar for engagement and improve accessibility across the board.
Techfritids unlocks curiosity through creativity. We worked with the tech startup Imagi who created a programmable device that allows users to program pixel art and let the participants to see their code manifested in different colors and shapes, from symmetrical patterns to rainbows and smiley faces. Simultaneously, it gives the participants immediate feedback on their progress, thus changing the face of coding as an abstract task.
We are convinced that creativity encourages further learning and deepens knowledge of the subject while making the process fun, rather than tedious.
Our creativity-first approach helps us create a supportive environment where participants gain both the confidence and the tools required to develop their problem-solving skills, all while bringing together a community. It was great to see the girls socializing and so quickly forming friendships, thus making Techfritids not only a place to learn hard skills, but also an environment in which one can find encouragement, inspiration, and empowerment.
Amazon Sweden is proud to support this community by hosting Techfritids, and we hope to continue to show how creativity can be used to unlock new skills.