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The Ultimate Girls’ Club—Girls Who Code

ibm keyboardThe tech world (as we know it) has very little female representation in leadership roles these days. In 2014, The National Center for Women in Technology (NCWIT) showed that only 18% of all computer and information science degrees were held by women. Women also make up just 26% of professional computing occupations, while only about 15% have at least one female founder.

It’s time that young women around the nation stand up and say, “I’m proud to be involved in science and technology.” And this non-profit organization is helping young girls do just that. Consider it the ultimate girls’ club—Girls Who Code.

GWC has been on the offensive to get more women involved in STEM related careers, particularly in computer sciences. Just this past year, the nonprofit organization taught a whopping 10,000 young women software skills across 40 different states.Founder Reshma Saujani, a former New York City public advocate, spoke about her mission to educate and encourage young women to stick with STEM in an interview with Teen Vogue.

“[On] this journey, I was going to classrooms full of boys,” she says. “Whether it was a robotics class, or a computer science class, I looked around and asked myself, ‘where are the girls?’” And sadly, Saujani’s story is common in computer science classrooms around the country. Research shows that while 74% of girls actually express interest in technology in middle school, only 0.3% of high school girls choose STEM as a college major. How does that happen? And how do we fix those trends?

“I think a lot of it has to do with culture,” says Saujani. “In the ’80s, society created a caricature of what a hacker, or a programmer looked like: a guy wearing a hoodie, drinking energy drinks, sitting in a basement somewhere coding. Today, programmers look like the men we see in the show, Silicon Valley on HBO. If you look at the message girls are getting, it’s saying: ‘This is not for you. You are not good enough.’ And they are listening and opting out.”

That’s why Girls Who Code is offering a chance to silence the naysayers and give young women the confidence to follow their true passions. GWC’s summer immersion program, for example, is a seven-week intensive program that focuses on group-oriented computer science projects that give students real world exposure and mentoring. “It’s like the ultimate girls’ club,” says Saujani. “One of the benefits of this girl-authentic movement is that they see other girls who think [tech] is awesome and it makes them want to learn how to do it, too.”

And having more women in the workforce is certainly beneficial in the long run. Just ask JJ DiGeronimo, a tech industry expert and founder of Tech Savvy Women, who has worked with high school students for years and noticed the many benefits any company would experience if they had more women in their ranks.”Women think on the basis of functionality, feasibility, and long-term benefit,” she says. “And not that men don’t think about this too, but women are more focused on the creative value of the long term.”

The feeling of accomplishing goals and realizing a bigger purpose is pushing many of the GWC girls to want to continue in a field where there are immense possibilities. The summer immersion program boasts that 90% of its graduates declare or intend to declare majors or minors in computer science after completing the course—that’s fantastic!

So if you’re interested in joining your fellow tech-savvy female friends in a comfortable environment, why not give Girls Who Code a try? You may like what you find!

photo credit: IBM Model M keyboard with USB controller via photopin (license)

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