Today’s “Girls Who Code”— Tomorrow’s Women Who Could Make a Difference
Thursday, August 11th, 2016
In the five years of its existence, the “Girls Who Code” organization has trained 40,000 high school-age females in the areas of computer science. The program’s results show a doubling of the number of girls who enter into this field, and it has motivated 90% of those they’ve trained to pursue computer science in college. Eventually, Founder and CEO, Reshma Saujani, envisions her graduates solving the world’s challenges, whether it be robots to help the blind, or tracking the Zika virus.
When interviewed, Saujani bookends her non-profit venture by describing its beginning as “an experiment” and by adding she wants to “be out of business within ten years.” Even before then, “Girls Who Code” aims to give one million girls access to a computer science education by the year 2020. The former Congressional political candidate, counsel for a private investment group, and Deputy Public Advocate in New York City, said she is “passionate about education and public service.”
This summer marked the first time “Girls Who Code” became available for young women in the Atlanta metro area. Eighty students participated in the free, seven-week immersion course held locally at AT&T, Accenture, and General Electric. At the recent graduation ceremony, the students created tabletop displays that reflected the training and their applied achievements completed during the final week of the session.
Alia, who prior to the course had only rudimentary knowledge of coding, designed a robot with a video camera capable of moving around with built-in motion sensors for stopping. The device could be used for nature photography, animal observations or, simply for as a pet watcher.
Another girl, d’Anne, created a website she called “Me Time,” and described it as a self-care connection tool with friends to share different emotions with music, videos and advice.
A third student who was interviewed, Danielle, programmed a game she called, “Ocean Dash,” which included characters similar those used in the Pokémon Go phenomenon.
All three were unanimous in recommending “Girls Who Code” to their peers and would gladly take the course again.
Instructors, who typically are college students or recent graduates, explained that the course curriculum included five or six programming languages, such as Java, Scratch, and Python. The girls worked in small groups of five or less, a few opting to go solo. Most students began the program with little or no experience.
Saujani summarized that the mission of “Girls Who Code” is to “close the gender gap in technology and she thanked the local corporate partners for their help in producing potential software professionals to decide to go into the industry. She said, “This is a world that is open to you, and once you learn this skill set, the possibilities are endless.”