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A Google search will tell you there are around 7,000 different languages in the world. But, this weekend past, hundreds of people gathered at our Perth office to celebrate a universal language – code.

Code is the language that connects the digital world. It is the programming – or the instructions or commands – that are strung together to drive and operate computers. It runs our cars, watches, appliances, and not to mention apps like Facebook, Google and even planes and drones.

It’s why BHP, in partnership with the Perth{web}Girls, ran a workshop for employees, friends and family to teach people, and particularly young girls, how to code.

Our Chief Technology Officer, Diane Jurgens, took part in the workshop and spoke about the importance of women and girls learning code.

“Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (or STEM for short) are critical for creating our future technology in every industry and every country around the world,” said Diane.

“But, at the moment, boys are learning these skills, studying these skills at university and applying them to work at a higher rate than girls. I was disappointed to learn that while the number of women participating in STEM is steadily increasing, the number of women majoring in computer science has continued to decrease over the past decade.”

To a room of more than 160 people, Diane shared her story of daring to dream big and use her individuality in STEM as an opportunity.

“Being the only girl in many of my engineering classes at times made me feel uncomfortable, but it also unlocked so many doors. And so many more opportunities came my way once I finished college.

“I’ve never stopped daring to dream… or to think big!”

Programming and coding has played a big role in Diane’s career. She learned to code – mostly self taught – and started programming the library computer system as a 16 year old. The money she earned from this helped her pay part of her university education – and changed her life.

And technology, Diane said, will also change the course at BHP.

“Technology and innovation is key for BHP’s success,” said Diane.

“We can’t do the best in technology or innovation without having the smartest, most creative, most STEM-savvy people on the job.

“Creating the pipeline for our next generation teams is just as important as creating the next generation of mining technologies. That’s why we’ve committed A$55 million over five years to Australian programs to increase interest and achievements in STEM.”

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