Why We Need Coding Clubs for Girls Why We Need Coding Clubs for Girls
Technology

Why We Need Coding Clubs for Girls

by Reshma Saujani

February 6, 2014

 

Four of the girls from 2012 who were seniors at the time have already declared majors or minors in computer science, and are at college right now doing that.100 percent of them said they were more likely to choose CS than they were before. The last two weeks of our eight-week program is to allow each of the girls to do a project. Our girls built things that were just tremendous. Khady built a website to teach computer science in 32 different languages, despite having to teach her to use a mouse the first week. Cora built an algorithm to help detect whether a cancer is benign or malignant. Lesley started building websites for immigrant entrepreneurs in her community. Nikita made an app called Tree Hugger that she was invited to present at the White House Science Fair. These were amazing results that we simply could not have predicted. They all wanted to make things that were about making the community better. That was a big eye-opener for me. We don’t even know how amazing our world could be because we are not empowering our girls.

One of the most amazing things we found in our first year as well was that when the girls graduated, they said, “Oh my god. I found something amazing. I want to share it with people.” So, they started teaching their sisters, their parents, and their classmates. That’s where we decided to create the Girls Who Code Clubs. Our girls go back to their school, and are able to launch a club. That is our other product that we are focused on now. We want to reach as many girls as we possibly can. The Clubs allow us to build a pipeline. They become a feeder for our immersion program. We’ve reached about 600 girls so far in our Clubs, and we’re hoping to reach another 2500 this year. I have visited a several schools that run Club programs, and have come across so many great little girl geeks that are coding, building systems, and creating things. Oftentimes, it’s girls who are already interested in STEM, but they think they want to be doctors or scientists. They’ve just never been exposed to computer science before. It’s a whole new world for them, and they’re really excited about it.

From last year, about 7500 women graduated in computer science, and about 5000 girls took the AP computer science exam. So, even if we get half of our girls to do that, we will move the needle enormously. We are running 16 Summer Immersion programs this year. We only have 320 spots. We anticipate over 1000 applicants. We don’t want to turn anybody away. How do I get the girls who are not able to participate in our programs this year—how am I able to teach them? That’s something we really want to figure out.

Reshma Saujani founded Girls Who Code, a national nonprofit working to inspire, educate and equip young women with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities. They recently expanded their Summer Immersion program to Miami.

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Why We Need Coding Clubs for Girls