Forum: School syllabus, not parents' vision, got me started in coding

The huge gender gap in Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields will not be fully addressed through affirmative comments and actions from parents alone (Steering girls towards Stem careers, Feb 8).

If parents were to actively guide children towards coding classes or experiences, the already over-strained parents would be under further pressure, given the significant investment that would be needed in terms of time, effort and money.

Singapore, as a nation that proactively tackles issues on education, should look at countries that have better statistics on gender equality when it comes to Stem subjects - and coding, in particular - to understand how the countries achieved them.

In India, according to The New York Times, roughly 40 per cent of the students studying computer science and related fields are women. It is a similar picture in Malaysia.

I learnt my first lines of computer code 30 years ago in a Secondary 1 classroom in India, at a time when home personal computers were unheard of.

It was the school curriculum, not visionary parents, that got us all into the world of computing.

The syllabus that my school followed had replaced socially useful activities (sewing for girls and gardening for boys) with computer science way back in the late 1980s.

Inequality can largely be eradicated by ensuring equal access. By introducing coding as a subject at the secondary level across all streams and schools, Singapore can ensure gender equality in its digital workforce, and build a bigger tech talent pool to reduce its dependence on foreign talent in the future.

More importantly, the knowledge of coding will add immense value to those taking up non-Stem careers, given the way technology has pervaded all aspects of our lives.

Devi Subhakesan