Maria Quevedo featured

Inspirational Woman: Maria Quevedo | Director, Code Club & Raspberry Pi Foundation

 

Maria QuevedoMaria has over ten years’ experience in senior leadership positions across the charity and private sectors.

In her role as Director of Code Club, she has focused on implementing innovative strategies to grow Code Club’s community of volunteers and venues, expanding beyond the tech sector to engage new and diverse audiences.

She leads a team with UK-wide and global capacity, encouraging them to explore creative approaches to increase and widen the programme’s reach.

Maria is also a Director at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a UK-based charity, leading Code Club. Code Club is part of the Raspberry Pi family and is a worldwide network of free, volunteer-led coding clubs for children and teenagers. The mission of the Raspberry Pi Foundation is to put the power of digital making into the hands of people all over the world. In 2019, the Raspberry Pi Foundation aims to raise £4.25 million to pursue its educational initiatives including online coding projects, free coding clubs, and volunteer support. They are only able to do this important work thanks to the generous support of their partners.

Please contact [email protected] to get involved.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background, and your current role

My name is Maria Quevedo. I’m Code Club Director at the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Code Club is a global network of 12,000 coding clubs for 9- to 13-year-olds. These clubs are led by teachers, often with the support of volunteers, and we provide training, teaching materials, and support so they can help club members learn how to code and make their own games, animations, and websites. I lead a team of very talented people, working with them to develop the strategies for growth and engagement our community of volunteers and teachers.

Previously, I led educational programmes at a social business, and community projects in a charity working in one of the most deprived areas of London.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, I didn’t! I trained to be a translator and for many years interpreted for refugees and asylum seekers in London. Then I worked as a journalist, became a researcher at a think tank, and soon ended up managing the team. It was in this job that I realised how much I enjoyed leading teams, and later I decided to use my skills in programmes I really cared about. Education is key to helping people in challenging circumstances, and I see tech education as one of the main drivers against inequality in the future. We should make sure all young people — whatever their gender or background — have access to learning how to make things with technology, as this will open up lots of opportunities and improve their life chances.

Have you faced any particular challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

Almost three years ago, Code Club merged with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, and it was a very exciting and challenging time for everybody. It was great to join forces with another organisation so deeply aligned with our values and mission, but we had to navigate a huge amount of change. Both organisations brought amazing teams of people who supported this process with an open mind, and we all worked through it together, and very successfully.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

We need to fight the stereotype that STEM is only for men, and increase the visibility of women who are already working in STEM. There are women from all backgrounds working in tech who could be great role models to encourage young women to explore STEM and pursue a career like they’ve done.

My heart sinks every time a woman says that tech is not for her! Why not? I was already in my forties when I joined Code Club, and my coding experience consisted of editing HTML text on a website 15 years previously. I’ve learnt so much alongside children and colleagues at Code Club, and now I can have a lot of fun with my son by coding  games and making animations. Everything is possible if you set your mind to it, so why not STEM?

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I’ve mentored a social entrepreneur for the past four years. I supported her in developing the idea and in setting up and establishing a charity that provides cultural experiences to kids of low SES. The experience was very enriching for me, and I very much enjoyed supporting my mentee’s personal and professional development. I have also been mentored and found the experience really useful.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Settling in the UK. I came here from Argentina when I was 19, I spoke very little English and didn’t know anybody. It took a lot of determination to settle here and to grow professionally, and I’m very proud of everything I’ve achieved.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

It’s been six years since Code Club started. We continue to grow steadily, and currently there are clubs registered in 25% of UK schools. There are over 5,000 clubs in the rest of the world, we’ve tested different approaches to expanding our reach, and my next challenge is to establish the right model to scale. We want a Code Club in every community in the world!


Code Club featured

Get Involved: Code Club

 

CodeClub-LOGOA nationwide network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children aged 9-11

We create projects for our volunteers to teach at after school coding clubs or at non-school venues such as libraries. The projects we make teach children how to program by showing them how to make computer games, animations and websites. Our volunteers go to their local club for an hour a week and teach one project a week.

Each term the students will progress and learn more whilst at the same time using their imaginations and making creative projects. Terms 1 & 2 use Scratch to teach the basics of programming. Term 3 teaches the basics of web development using HTML and CSS. Term 4 teaches Python and so on.

We’d like to put a Code Club in every single primary school in the country. There are over 21,000 primary schools in the UK, it’s a big task but we think we can do it!

Our philosophy

Our goal is to inspire children to build and share their ideas, learning along the way.

We want children to leave Code Club inspired to pursue other digital making activities, whether that’s in their spare time, in school or as a career.

We want them to gain skills that are useful to them - not only learning to program, but also learning about computational thinking, problem solving, planning, designing and collaboration.

To find out more about our values - please read this blog post.

Why should children learn to code?

Learning to code is an important skill now we’re living in a digital age. It’s not just enough for children to know how to use technology. They should know how it works and how to build it too.

Learning to code doesn’t just mean you can become a developer - it strengthens problem solving and logical thinking skills, and is useful for a range of other disciplines, careers and hobbies.

For more information visit: www.codeclub.org.uk