“When we teach girls to code, when we empower them to speak up, and when we open doors to opportunity, we’re not just building a pipeline of computer scientists,” said Dr. Tarika Barrett, CEO of Girls Who Code. “We’re also building the next generation of change-makers who are ready to take on the world.”
Launched a decade ago, Girls Who Code’s free summer programs offer young women and non-binary students the computer science skills they need to make an impact, exposure to potential job opportunities, and a supportive community.
Girls Who Code (GWC) offers two programs: A 2-week immersion program and a 6-week self-paced experience that allows students to learn in a style that works best for them. All high school students who identify as girls or non-binary can apply, and no prior computer science experience is required.
Since its founding, GWC’s goal has been to ensure that all of its programs reach as many students from historically underrepresented communities as possible, and that at least 50% of participants come from these groups. Girls Who Code focuses its outreach on its network of more than 400 community partners, including local schools, state departments of education, and both local and national community-based organizations that serve historically underrepresented communities. The organization provides community partners with social media toolkits to make it easier to publicize events, and offers to host virtual application parties and webinars with alumni. GWC also tries to remove barriers to participation by providing hardware access (including a hotspot) and a grant for students who require additional financial support.
“A critical component of what makes our summer programs so successful is partner engagement,” said Dr. Danny Voloch, Girls Who Code’s Chief Program Officer. “Students get to hear from tech leaders who often look like them and have similar experiences, learn about cutting edge technology, and build their social network and social capital.”
On average, Girls Who Code’s summer programs have over 40 different corporate partners each year. And in the last ten years, they have served nearly 20,000 students. Overall, GWC alumni are earning computer science and related degrees at 7x the national average. Alumni with racial and ethnic identities that are underrepresented in tech are earning these degrees at nearly 8x the national average. The summer programs are proof that it is possible to close the gender gap in the tech industry when we make opportunities like these possible for all young people.