A group of four reporters from across the world are teaming up to investigate journalism projects that are successfully getting more women into coding.

Michele Bertelli, Javier Sauras, Felix Lill and Abdi Latif Dahir will spend the next few months interviewing programme leaders about their work, and the impact that closing the gender gap in the IT workforce is having on local development in each area.

Coding Like A Girl, which is funded through an Innovation in Development Reporting Grant (IDR) from the European Journalism Centre, has so far looked at Laboratoria, a project that has trained approximately 550 women with coding skills in Peru, Chile and Mexico.

“We tried to find a topic that challenged stereotypes,” said Bertelli, an Italian freelance journalist and videomaker.

“People tend to assume that developing countries are always behind the Western world, but if you look at the computer workforce, the gender gap in the IT industry and the computer technology industry, you can see that there are countries that are experimenting with successful projects that are bringing more females into this space.”

Of course, coding skills can help journalists tell better, more engaging stories in the ever-changing world of digital journalism, and there are many tools and courses that can help reporters get started, but the field has, historically, been male-dominated – something that news organisations and companies around the world are trying to change.

The team will also look at initiatives in Africa and Europe, in areas that people wouldn’t associate with coding, and they are still open to suggestions as the project progresses.

“We are looking at what can be done better by Western companies,” he said.

“We found that start-up Laboratoria is very good at enrolling girls and connecting them with firms and enterprises, which shows that having a role model makes a big difference – the founder of the company, who’s also female, has been a big drive for all the people involved. Seventy-five per cent of the graduates are working in the field now.”

The results of Coding Like A Girl are due to be published in early 2018. The aim is to tell the story of getting more women into coding through individual case studies, with additional information from datasets in all the countries.

“Visual impact for us is absolutely essential – video with text, photography, motion graphics and illustrations will be able to convey a complicated topic in an easy-to-understand way,” Bertelli added.

“Our aim is to create an interactive video where people can decide what they want to look at and check the data for themselves."

Previous multimedia projects IDR has funded by the same team include Bolivia’s Everyday Water War, which analysed the struggle of Bolivia’s population against privatisations, state avoidance and climate change, and Mothers and Children First, which looked at tackling maternal mortality in Bolivia.

The Innovation in Development Reporting Grant is open for applications until 6 September. The programme looks to advance creative reporting approaches as a way to enable better coverage of international development issues.

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