The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million jobs in computer science. But American universities are on track to produce qualified graduates to fill less than a third of those jobs, and only a tiny number of the graduates we do produce are women. According to U.S. Department of Commerce, just one out of every seven engineers are in this country are women.
Girls Who Code wants to change that. The organization just concluded its second summer of computer science immersion camps for high school girls. This year, the nonprofit went national, expanding from one camp in New York to programs in Detroit, San Francisco, and San Jose. Campers have built apps to help the disabled navigate New York's subways, Twitter-based apps for book clubs, and complex video games; alumnae have returned to their schools to start pilot Girls Who Code Clubs and lobby for more computer science courses, since many high schools don’t offer them. (To meet the overwhelming demand and reach more girls with their programs, especially in under-served communities, the organization will be launching a new Girls Who Code Clubs effort this fall.)
In Detroit, Girls Who Code hosted 20 girls for eight weeks in partnership with GE and the Knight Foundation, working with 50-plus mentors and leaders at GE’s Advanced Manufacturing and Software Technology Center. Most of the mentors were women. "If you look at who the girls are exposed to—half of our most senior IT leaders are women—they were literally seeing themselves there," says Kim Bankston, who led the program for GE. "The mentors the girls had were women with 10 to 20 years of experience in IT. They could tell their story of growing up in Michigan and going into this field."