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 Thursday, June 28, 2012

An intensive camp for budding female programmers and engineers hopes to increase the number of women in the tech world.

Women earn the majority of bachelor degrees in the U.S., but only 24% of females work in technical fields. "Girls and boys at 12 or 13 like math and science the same, but then something shifts. There’s a cultural perception that a coder or engineer looks like a white male", says Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code and former New York City Deputy Public Advocate.

So she founded Girls Who Code, a summer program with backing from Twitter, General Electric, Google, and eBay that wants to help close the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) gap by giving high school girls (ages 13 to 17) the opportunity to learn more about what engineering and technology careers have to offer--and by giving them the confidence to pursue their goals.

The New York City program, which kicks off this summer, will have 20 participants, representing all of the city’s boroughs and 12 different ethnicities. "We wanted to focus on girls who didn’t have a lot of access at home or schools that were passionate about technology", says Saujani.

The Girls Who Code participants will have a jam-packed summer schedule, with activities planned Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Every week will have a different theme (mobile apps, robotics, entrepreneurship, etc.) and speakers will come talk to the girls every day. Already, Girls Who Code has lecturers like General Electric CMO Beth Comstock, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, and Gilt Groupe founder Alexis Maybank lined up. Once or twice a week, the participants will take field trips to various tech startups and established companies, including Twitter, Google, Facebook, and General Assembly.

During the final two weeks, the girls will work on their final projects, which will ask them to solve problems using tools they’ve learned during the summer. One example: The girls might be asked identify a challenge in their neighborhood, and develop something--a video game, say, or a mobile app-- to address it. The girls will receive feedback and help from their mentors teachers, and at the end of the program, they’ll have the opportunity to showcase their ideas to a group of entrepreneurs and engineers.

(Source: Fastcoexist)
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