Women’s Fund event aims to close gender gap


Image curtesy of the Vermont Women's Fund facebook page

Lily Young, Staff Writer

Prominent female activists spoke at a UVM event Oct. 30 in the Grand Maple Ballroom.

The Vermont Women’s Fund, the group that held the event, is a nonprofit organization that gives grants to programs that support women and girls across the state.

The goal of the night was to raise $35,000 that would go directly to programs for women. This goal was reached and surpassed by the end of the night, said Meg Smith, director of the Women’s Fund.

Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, was the keynote speaker at the event.

Girls Who Code is a nonprofit organization that teaches girls coding in hopes to bridge the gender gap in computer science, Saujani said.

The event focused on programs that support women, like the Vermont Women’s Fund and Girls Who Code, Smith said.

Today, women make up less than 18 percent of those in technology fields, Saujani said.

Saujani said this can be traced back to culture and stereotypes set on women and men from a young age.

Today, there are 90,000 girls being taught to code through Girls Who Code in all 50 states and in some U.S. territories, she said.

Lisa Dion, a computer science lecturer at UVM, opened up the first chapter of Girls Who Code in Vermont. she teaches around a dozen girls how to code every week through Girls Who Code, she said.

She worked as an instructor in a Girls Who Code summer program in 2017 where she, along with two other instructors, taught coding to 40 girls. After the summer program, she came to UVM to teach and decided to open a chapter of Girls Who Code in Vermont, she said.

“Just being able to spread the exposure and awareness that technology and computing is a thing to girls this young is amazing,” Dion said.

Sophomore Kayley Noterman is a female STEM student who appreciates the work of the Women’s Fund.

“To see females have this opportunity is really important,” she said.