When I was in junior high school, I went to a “Women in Science” event at the local university. I learned about solar panels (awesome), and I got to feed a deadly centipede from South America through a tube (creepy and awesome). It was great to be exposed to women working in science, because it made me feel like I could do it too. Sadly, these types of programs are few and far between.
The gender gap in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education is no secret, and in our go-go-gadget, tech-driven society it is more important than ever for women to learn about technology or else risk losing economic ground. Thankfully, organizations like Girls Who Code are taking “Tech Ed” seriously.
Girls Who Code, a nonprofit founded in New York last year, provides 8-week summer training programs in computer science, programming, and robotics for high school girls. With support from the Knight Foundation and companies such as Google and Twitter, the program is now expanding to San Jose, Detroit and Miami.
The mastermind behind the project is Reshma Saujani, a former Deputy Public Advocate of NYC and the first Indian-American woman to run for Congress. During the 2010 race, Saujani used innovative technology like Square to fundraise. Now, along with other female experts in the field, she’s passing on her tech-savvy knowledge to young girls who may not have access to computers in school.
The nonprofit’s website is packed with statistics stressing the timeliness of the project. Technological fields are projected to become an even greater source of jobs in the coming years. By 2018 there will be 1.4 million job openings in computer science, only 29% of which are projected to be filled by university graduates. Although women dominate social networking sites, they lead only 3.6% of Fortune 500 companies. Girls Who Code aims to expand computer literacy for women and ultimately change those bleak numbers.
In addition to providing specialized education, Girls Who Code is helping to destroy societal stereotypes that keep girls away from computer science and the STEM fields in general (super awesome!).
If you want to get involved with Girls Who Code, you can find out more on their website.
Images via tweetbuzz.us, betabeat.com, inc.com, and girlswhocode.tumblr.com