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Intensive summer coding camp introduces girls to tech industry, with help from women who’ve made it

It’s no secret that there’s a scarcity of women in expertise, and in Washington state alone there are greater than two-dozen organizations attempting to enhance the variety of school-age girls excited by science, expertise, engineering and math.

However few applications are as intensive, complete and reasonably priced because the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program. This month, the seven-week program for high-school girls is wrapping up its fourth yr of camps, held in 11 tech-focused cities nationwide. The camps are free.

A current go to to a session being held on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Wash., discovered the scholars armed with soldering irons and hunched over small, robot-shaped pins. The girls have been soldering the pin’s wiring and battery in place to make the robotic’s LED eyes mild up.

Jasmine Dang, a soon-to-be junior, was going through some technical issue.

“I form of ruined mine earlier after I was messing with it,” Dang mentioned, prodding her unlit robotic with the iron.

However Dang, who attends Auburn Riverside Excessive Faculty, positioned south of Seattle, was having fun with the camp nonetheless.

“It’s enjoyable to see what laptop science is all about,” she mentioned. “It’s nice to get to do that at a younger age.”

On that exact day, the girls took a tour of Microsoft’s “Storage” facility — a makers house out there to staff. The Storage has tools for 3D printing, embroidering materials, constructing drones and robotics, and lasers for etching and creating paper cutouts.

“What makes this camp particular are the actions they get to do, that they will’t do wherever else,” mentioned Andrea Lattanner, a Microsoft program supervisor who coordinates the software program firm’s participation within the camp.

This summer, Girls Who Code organized six immersion camps in Washington, every hosted by a special tech firm. As well as to Microsoft, the opposite taking part companies are Adobe, Amazon, AT&T, Expedia and Groupon.

Nationally, some 1,560 high-school girls who’re going into their junior and senior years are taking part in 78 applications. The camps are being held within the Seattle space in addition to Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York, the San Francisco Bay Space and Washington, D.C.

Every group has completely different actions, however they embody an introduction to some primary coding languages, corresponding to Python, Scratch, HTML, CSS and C++, and the final two weeks of camp are spent on last initiatives.

The girls have a possibility to meet and listen to from women working in management positions at tech corporations, and the scholars are matched up with a feminine tech mentor. The mentors, who’re of their early and mid 20s and work as builders and engineers, can help the scholars with faculty purposes and profession recommendation. Most of the mentors agree to keep linked with the scholars properly after the camp has ended.

Girls Who Code, a nonprofit, additionally runs extra widespread, after-school coding golf equipment for girls in grades 6 to 12.

Many of the college students on the Microsoft-hosted summer camp mentioned that they beforehand restricted expertise with coding and have been keen to discover the sector.

Fiona Loomis, a home-schooled pupil from Seattle getting into her senior yr, was glad to be in an all-girls program. If it had been supplied to combined genders, she figures she would have been considered one of just a few feminine college students.

“Coding is admittedly intimidating,” she mentioned. “I might have had a tougher time if it had been girls and boys.”

Research shows that roughly equal numbers of girls pursue math and science courses throughout grade-school years. However a current study reveals an enormous gender imbalance amongst faculty college students incomes computer-related college levels. Roughly 15 % of laptop science bachelor’s levels within the U.S. are attained by women.

Within the workforce, women held solely 25 % of the pc and arithmetic jobs nationwide final yr. Twenty years in the past, they held 31 % of these positions, in accordance to a GeekWire analysis of information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Girls Who Code, and different efforts domestically and throughout the nation, are attempting to reverse the downward tendencies — and preliminary numbers counsel the applications might be serving to. Girls Who Code studies that roughly 90 % of the girls taking part within the summer camp mentioned they deliberate to main or minor in laptop science or a associated subject.

The camp instructors “actually get girls enthusiastic about laptop science and all of the completely different elements of laptop science training,” mentioned Lattanner. They get the girls to strive coding and different technology-related actions, which “takes away the stigma, by attempting it and saying, ‘I can do that.’”

The scholars additionally mentioned they appreciated the prospect to see women working in attention-grabbing roles within the subject.

“We’ve been launched to a variety of feminine function fashions,” mentioned Kathryn Orr, who’s beginning her junior yr at Lake Stevens Excessive Faculty, positioned about 40 miles north of Seattle. “If you happen to see them, it’s like, oh yeah, they’re there.”

The girls realized that in the event that they pursue levels and careers in expertise, “I’m not going to be alone,” mentioned Loomis. “There may be going to be somebody to assist you.”

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