Coding movement is really cultural change

Many coding programs are not actively recruiting female participants. Is this a welcome cultural shift or meddlesome cultural engineering? At least one company hopes you choose the former.

Startup tech company Jewelbots develops “smart friendship bracelets” to get girls interested in coding. According to press releases, customers can program the bracelets with their iPhones to make them light up when friends are near.

The effort is based on the premise that even “girly girls” can and should be taught to code. So far, the campaign seems to be going well. Customers see coding in this manner as an opportunity to cross tech with creativity, something many novice coders don’t realize they can experience.

The effort is just one way tech education companies hope to introduce children and teens to the possibilities of coding. Once considered the domain of supersmart “computer nerds” coding is now touted as a fun hobby anyone can learn. This generation’s version of the model car … without any messy glue or solvent causing concern..

For the most part, companies are going after younger kids, hoping to catch them before the rigid social expectations of middle and high school take hold. Others, like Jewelbots, try grabbing older kids by combining creative coding with something the girls already appreciate – accessorizing with tech.

By mixing the familiar with an attractively packaged new opportunity, companies see increased success in recruiting new kids – of all ages – to coding. While it’s far too early to judge the generational impact of these tech PR efforts on this generation, there’s no doubt the first generation to see coding, in the same way, their parents looked at Legos or charm bracelets will see, understand and interact with technology in a very different way.

Ronn Torossian is the CEO of NY based PR firm 5WPR.