This article was originally published by Forbes and is republished with permission.
Blockchain is meant to lower barriers for people around the world. Yet, in the early days, Bitcoin had a diversity issue: 90% of Bitcoin users in a CoinDesk survey in 2015 were male.
Some people point to the gender issues in the technology sector as the foundation for gender inequality in blockchain. Only about 10% of all computer science graduates are women in the United States. Yet, that number can dramatically change: one university got the ratio as high as 40%
in less than a decade by being deliberate and systematic about opening up technology possibilities to women.
For an industry that prides itself on decentralization and creating accessibility for all, ensuring that the people who are building solutions can accurately represent as many problem-holders as possible is critical.
This is why programs like Blockchain Learning Group’s training and hackathon for high school children can help bridge this essential gap. Blockchain Learning Group offers high-value corporate and governmental workshops where they’ve worked with several industry leaders — but they work with schools out of a need to evangelize blockchain knowledge early and to help create future leaders in blockchain. They’ve worked with several high schools including a set of all-girls high schools — and are looking to systematize the program around the world.
They deliver the same training methodology that helps top executives and engineers understand blockchain concepts to high school teenagers and get them working with practical blockchain concepts by teaching them programming skills and design knowledge they need to start building their own apps on different blockchains.
Culminating in a hackathon that helps show off what the students have learned, these high school students have built all sorts of useful applications, from participatory budget apps that allow taxpayers to choose where to spend their tax money to blockchain apps that help track fair trade products throughout their logistics chain.
Plans are in motion to eventually get up to 1,000 schools on this system, spread throughout countries as far from each other as Canada and Australia. The program has started with a few high schools in both countries, including some that are all-girls high schools. They tend to work with schools looking for additional education content in technology and have found a voracious appetite for their program.
Australian high school students at an all-girls school were able to leverage the training they got to win the Smart Cities Hackathon in Melbourne — winning prizes for DApps developed on the Ethereum blockchain. Beyond the training that was provided, perhaps most important was the opening of a new set of possibilities to these high school girls who were exposed to new technology concepts and careers they hadn’t known about a short time ago.
Another girl’s high school was able to leverage the training provided to help familiarize both students and teachers to the possibilities of the blockchain. Industry experts and speakers were brought in by Blockchain Learning Group to help spread more learning and to create new networks for these future high school graduates to build something. The training didn’t involve just technical aspects: students were taught the design process and learned how to iterate towards building something usable and saleable.
As one excited student that was part of the program put it: “Through the immersive hands-on experience Blockchain Learning Group provided me, I am now able to confidently construct my very own decentralized applications and program Solidity smart contracts with confidence. The workshops were extremely useful and only made me more excited about Blockchain technology and its potential.”
Programs like this are required to bring more people into blockchain and to train the future entrepreneurs and innovators that will bring the sector to new heights.