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Monday, 6 August 2018

Girls Who Code encourages young women in STEM, one coding class at a time.

girls who code in STEM

The nonprofit’s Summer Immersion Program aims to catch girls before their interest in computer science depreciates.

On July 12, 2014, Macie Cooper, then a 15-year-old, made a strong statement about her future in her journal. It was definitive; she left nothing to the imagination.
“I have officially decided on this day I’m going to major in computer science,” Cooper wrote, while participating in a Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program.

macie cooper girls who code
Macie Cooper
Four years later, Cooper has kept that pledge to herself, majoring in computer science and studio art at the University of California, Santa Cruz. 
Cooper, who has an infectious confidence, says the seven-week program cemented her love for computer programming.
“A lot of my activities afterward stemmed from me participating in the program,” she said. “Because I had the support system, I had the knowledge and I had the confidence”.

Girls face countless obstacles pursuing education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, a group of studies collectively known as STEM. Those obstacles include stereotypes of what girls should and shouldn’t study, gender biases and often unreceptive climates for female students in science and engineering departments at colleges and universities.
Even if they find their way into STEM courses, girls say they feel out of place. More than a quarter of middle school girls and a fifth of high school girls report they’re too embarrassed to ask questions, according to a study by Microsoft and KRC Research. In addition, 32% of middle school and 35% of high school girls report they don’t feel supported by their teachers and classmates.

Girls Who Code aims to change that. The 6-year-old program strives to create welcoming spaces for girls interested in programming and close the gender gap in tech. the nonprofit has hosted thousands of incoming 11th and 12th grade girls across the country through its annual Summer Immersion Program since 2012. The organizers of Girls Who Code hope the program will encourage more tech companies, which are overwhelming male, to hire and retain employees from diverse backgrounds.
The disparity between girls’ and boys’ involvement in STEM starts early. Girl’s interest in computer science drops between the ages of 12 and 14 according to a Google-Gallup study, just when boys are becoming more interested in the field.

Girls Who Code is part of the broad push to get young girls interested in STEM, and it says it's already making an impact. Its alumni are majoring in computer science or related fields at a rate 15 times the national average, and some girls have returned to their host companies as interns or full-time employees. The organization's #HireMe platform lists internship and employment opportunities from company partners. In 2017, those companies received more than 500 applications for posted positions.

Other programs are also working to promote young women in STEM, including Girls Makes Games, a 3-week camp that teaches girls ages 8-17 how to code their own video games. Partner companies include PlayStation, Xbox and Intel. Supermodel Karlie Kloss also hosts a summer coding camp for girls ages 13-18 called Kode with Klossy, which this year takes place in 25 cities.

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