Deputy Chief of Mission Kelly Degnan at Coding Girls Workshop
November 21, 2016
Liceo Scientifico Volterra, Ciampino
(As prepared for delivery)
Buon pomeriggio a tutti! E’ un grande piacere per me essere qui al Volterra oggi, tra tanti giovani. Una bella sensazione quella di guardare il futuro, e ho davanti agli occhi un futuro pieno di impegno e di promesse.
So che una parte di questo impegno e una parte molto importante dal mio punto di vista, è migliorare il vostro inglese. Allora voglio essere ancora più partecipe dell’iniziativa e da questo momento vi parlerò in inglese. Così anche Emily potrà seguirci.
First of all, I wish to thank Director General Mirta Michilli and her staff from the Fondazione Mondo Digitale, who, together with Microsoft, have been our great partners in this project since the program launched in 2014.
I also want to give a special thank you to your Dean, Professor Ezia Palmeri, and to your teachers, for embracing Coding Girls and for giving you this opportunity.
You are very lucky to have such open-minded professionals as your teachers. They recognize the importance of innovation, especially for young women. The best educators know that by offering students such as yourselves exciting opportunities, you can all challenge yourselves with something new.
I also want to recognize the importance of the contributions of your American trainer, Dr. Emily Thomforde (Tom-ford), as both a role model and teacher. Emily will be sharing with you her knowledge and experience, together with a lot of enthusiasm and her ardent belief that anyone can learn and become passionate about science and technology.
Let me say something about Coding Girls. This project has the ambitious goal of overcoming the stereotypes that exist in our society, in our schools and in our families. “Coding Girls” challenges the cliche that science, engineering, technology and mathematics—STEM fields—are meant mainly for boys. This stereotype has existed for decades and enabled the under-representation women in STEM professions. It’s up to us, and to you, to close that gap.
Our approach is very simple. Through Coding Girls, we want to expose young women like you to the world of technology and show you that you can develop the skills that are needed to excel in the STEM field, just like your brothers and male friends. I hope you will discover that mathematics and creativity in design, engineering, and coding are a better fit for your talents and interests than you ever would have imagined!
Our objective is also very simple: we want to open new paths for you, paths that you may not have considered because of the stereotypes that I mentioned. Stereotypes and misconceptions have historically blocked a whole world of opportunities from women and girls. Our objective is to help you claim those opportunities while showing you that technology is both fun and accessible.
I’m positive that we are succeeding with Coding Girls. This project has been steadily growing since 2014, when it started with a pilot project in Rome. Coding Girls is now active in three cities: Milan, Naples and Rome. It has grown from training 200 to 1,000 girls, and the program has evolved to include “train the trainer” sessions so the Coding Girls reach is even larger. We’ve also seen more tutors taking part, which has a terrific multiplier effect. We expect these numbers to keep increasing in the future.
Innovation is key for the economic growth of our countries, especially for younger generations. Girls and women need to play a central role in this economic growth, and the U.S. Mission to Italy is proud to be part of this movement.
The United States also promotes innovation and entrepreneurship at a global level. Every year our government organizes the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which calls for young entrepreneurs from all over the world to gather to share their experiences and ideas, with the opportunity to present their projects to investors from all over the world. Last year the Summit took place in the Silicon Valley, and the year before in Kenya. India will host the next Summit.
We also celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week, which began on November 14 and runs through today, the 21st.
Coding Girls is our way of celebrating this exciting entrepreneurial week. We’ll be highlighting your great work to our State Department colleagues in Washington to spread the word about your talent and enthusiasm.
To conclude, I will switch back to Italian…sono certa che anche quest’anno, Coding Girls sarà un’esperienza di formazione per le tante coders che partecipano con entusiasmo. E il vostro entusiasmo è la premessa migliore per il vostro e il nostro futuro. Vi ringrazio. Go girls!