Video game and software development used to be solely the domain of twenty-something white guys coding in their garage, but times they are a changin'. The Girls Who Code camp is a seven week-long program designed to immerse teenage girls in the world of programming, in order to introduce more young women to computer science and technology careers.
The Girls Who Code camp is free to attend (though you must register well in advance) and takes place in dozens of cities across North America. 10th and 11th grade girls are taught how to create their own video games, websites, and apps, while attending lessons at big tech companies like Microsoft and Facebook. There is also a network of Girls Who Code after-school clubs, for those who can't attend the camps or would like to keep coding through the school year. This past year, over 10,000 girls were involved with the program.
It's no secret that women are under-represented in the tech industry - in fact, the gender gap has actually grown larger since the '80s. Girls Who Code is the brain child of Reshma Saujani, who is also the first Indian-American woman to run for US Congress. Though she's not a programmer herself, she noticed the gender disparity in computer science classrooms while touring local schools during her campaign. That inspired her to start Girls Who Code, which originally started with just 20 students in her hometown of New York.
I'm not a coder either, but I do work in IT, where I'm frequently the only woman in my department. I'm also an active member of the gaming community (duh), where women are still struggling to be taken seriously. When I was in high school, we had one computer class, which was taught by the soccer coach, and the only other girl in there with me was a soccer player hoping for an easy A. So I'm acutely aware of the issues facing girls and women who might be interested in joining the tech/gaming field. Programs like Girls Who Code are sorely needed, and the huge membership of their clubs and camps prove that there are many girls out there looking for a chance to learn how to program.
If you or someone you know would be interested in signing up for Girls Who Code's camp or club, you can find more information at their website, GirlsWhoCode.com.