A BBC documentary encouraging young girls into the IT industry has met a lukewarm response from a channel women in IT (WIT) champion.
Girls Can Code, a two-part programme which aired on BBC3 recently, followed the progress of a group of girls aiming to come up with a viable tech business idea in a fortnight. If it was good enough, the girls would have the chance to pitch it to investors. The show was part of the BBC's Make It Digital season which told the story of how British pioneers have shaped the digital landscape.
Last month, CompTIA's chief executive Todd Thibodeaux said the skills gap in the IT industry is getting worse as youngsters pursue careers in showbiz, partly because of the rise of popular TV shows such as The X Factor.
Rebecca Little, director of channel firm Resource IT and WIT champion, said it was good news that technology for girls is hitting the mainstream, but said the programme itself left a lot to be desired.
"The show was a great talent show and it was good to get the subject into the media – it's primetime TV," she said. "We've never had that before so I was so excited to see it. But unfortunately, I was a bit underwhelmed by the actual implementation of it."
She said the time period in which the girls had to think up, build and pitch the product was too short, and although added to the entertainment value, could have put some younger girls off as a result.
"It was unrealistic – how many of us create an app in a week and pitch to an investor? I think it made it unattainable for some girls," she said. "I would love to see a similar programme but in a way which demonstrates the breadth of all the opportunities for them in the industry."
On top of this, Little said she thought the show would have been improved if it coincided with online resources for viewers whose imaginations were captured by the programme.
"I felt the show missed a big opportunity in that there was no call to action," she said. "They didn't do anything that you can translate into doing something. With the Great British Bake Off, now it has been on TV, everyone thinks they're a baker. It's great, people post pictures of what they are making and there is a social element to that.
"They really had an opportunity to do that. They could have [linked] to the Hour Of Code or some sort of coding [event]. There are things like that people could do at home and it could have been really good fun."
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