News & Press
“Girls Who Code is a movement—we are changing the face of computer science.” —Joelle, 16
It has been a year of exciting programming growth for Girls Who Code. From a single program in New York City in 2012, we expanded to offer eight Summer Immersion Programs in five cities in 2013, and brought on nine generous corporate and foundation partners, including Twitter, Intel, Goldman Sachs, eBay, IAC, AT&T, GE, Cornell Tech, and the Knight Foundation, to fuel programmatic success. In collaboration with these partners we equipped 152 middle and high school girls with eight weeks of intensive classroom instruction in computer science, diverse exposure opportunities, and high-touch mentorship by the industry’s top female leaders.
Girls Who Code provided students with skills, exposure, and support by delivering the following across our eight summer 2013 programs:
- 2500+ hours of intensive classroom instruction on topics such as robotics, web design, mobile app development, entrepreneurship and more
- 250+ guest speakers ranging from Fortune 100 CEOs to female undergraduate students majoring in computer science
- Over 45 field trips to industry giants such as Google, Intel, Facebook, Twitter, and more
- Nearly 500 hours of mentoring with professional women to discuss career aspirations, educational goals and personal interests
As we expand our programs, Girls Who Code is investing deeply in monitoring and evaluation to assess the impact of our work—determining both which efforts are helping us achieve our mission of closing the gender gap in the technology sector and where we could make improvements. We collected a wide range of qualitative and quantitative data over the course of the summer using tools including surveys (for students, teachers, and parents), site visits, classroom observation, evaluation of student assignments, and interviews to understand how our programs are achieving our intended impact (or not). We engaged an independent, third party evaluator to work with our staff in support of this comprehensive effort and to analyze data coming out of our summer programs.
The results are remarkable:
- 95% of participants said they are definitely or more likely to consider a major / minor in computer science after participating in the Girls Who Code program.
- 99% of participants said they are considering pursuing a career in technology and 81% definitely intend to do so.
- 99% of participants believe that learning programming will help them get a good job.
- 94% of participants feel confident in their ability to use computers.
- 99% of participants said they would recommend Girls Who Code to other girls.
Across all indicators, girls report having a positive experience in the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program, and demonstrate increased confidence, awareness of opportunities in computing, and intention to pursue computing in the future. The girls developed a tangible community, which not only fostered their interest in CS and their confidence, but will also persist with them and provide needed support as they continue in the field. These successes, we found, were encouraged by the open-ended and hands-on nature of the Girls Who Code curriculum; students excelled when the opportunity to implement technology on problems of their own choosing. In just one summer, students developed not only technical skills but also a battery of non-technical skills including confidence and a deeper understanding of the computing field.
Stay tuned for our next blog post, which will feature lessons learned from this summer, additional metrics and outcomes, and how we’re using these learnings to make future Girls Who Code programs even more effective.
My It’s the Economy column on Sunday looks at why traditional economic incentives alone don’t seem to be enough to encourage more women (or men, for that matter) to go into highly lucrative computer science jobs, which can often provide great flexibility to boot.
Part of the issue, it seems, is exposure. Most people don’t come into contact with computer scientists or engineers in their daily lives, and don’t really understand what they do. American schools don’t do a great job of teaching computer science skills either.
When she was a little girl growing up in the Bronx, Nikki Allen dreamed of being a forensic scientist. As a teenager, she liked studying science in school, and she thought forensics offered a way to give back to her neighborhood. Not insignificant, the job also looked pretty cool — at least based on the many hours of “CSI” Allen had watched on TV with her aunt.
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.
Last summer, as members of the Inaugural Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program, we had a chance to visit the Gilt Groupe offices. Both of us instantly fell in love with the company! We both knew we wanted to work at Gilt the following summer, but of course, it was only a dream at the time. Kristen Titus, Girls Who Code’ Executive Director, and Ashley Gavin, Curriculum Director, along with the welcoming Gilt employees made it happen.
These past few weeks have been incredible for the two of us. We have been immersed in the world of tech, and have been learning things that most girls our age cannot. Being at Gilt Tech is the most fun we have ever had working. We have gotten to know the teams that we are spending time with. Nikita has been getting to know the Mobile Development sector of the company, and Diana is spending time with the Brand Acquisition team. Various people at the company have been teaching us about how Gilt works and the tech behind it. They have covered topics ranging from UX design to Databases. We, in turn, came up with an idea to create an app called Gilterella which incorporates the Gilt API and a weather API in order to put together a magical outfit for users with certain preferences. It has been really interesting to dive straight into a project and learn along the way. Ruxy and Nabila, our mentors, are always there to help us out and have been great role models for us. Although there is a lot of freedom being at Gilt, we have taken up responsibilities that we never would have acquired elsewhere. It’s not all about the long lunch breaks and the lifetime supply of m&ms. We recognize that we have work to accomplish and expectations to meet.
Before being at Gilt, we had already set our minds on becoming computer scientists. Gilt has taken us a step further and has shown us what we can do with our experience in computer science.
Diana: My experience at Gilt has really changed my perspective on my own abilities. I definitely see myself participating in Hackathons, pursuing a Computer Science degree, and even working in the tech sector at a company (in a couple of years of course).
–Nikita & Diana, GWC Class of 2012
Consider a fully functional website with educational content, celebrity forums, social engagement and crowdsourcing features — built in only eight weeks, using standard HTML, CSS, and jQuery. Now consider that the site was built by three New York City high school students – not even graduates – who had never taken a computer science course in their lives. Yet that is exactly what Kafilah Ali Muhammad, Molica Sin, and Sheree Lewis accomplished during their “I had no idea I could do this” summer.
While I’m grateful for everything I have learned through this program, what I love most about Girls Who Code is how it exposes girls to the field of computer science (a field with relatively few female players) and shows girls how exciting the computer science field is and how we can become a part of it. In my mind, this is the most invaluable aspect of the program – helping girls like me realize that there are countless opportunities in the tech world for women. And the program doesn’t just open your eyes to these opportunities. The program actually puts you in touch with many successful software engineers, art directors, product managers, chief technology officers, CEOs and entrepreneurs, just to name a few! All program participants were able to connect with these parties directly, ask them serious questions about their work and, in turn, become truly inspired by what they do.
Before this program, I never knew exactly what career path I wanted to pursue. With the help of Girls Who Code, I now know with certainty that I want to have a career in the field of computer science, possibly in computer graphics. There will always be more to learn and do, especially since technology is growing every minute of every day. But after my experience with Girls Who Code, I’m confident that I have the knowledge skills and confidence to rise to the occasion.
NYC VC Fred Wilson on Girls Who Code: “Seeing Girls Who Code in action gives me hope that we are going to get women to join this movement, maybe even lead it”
We were thrilled to introduce the stellar young women of the IAC and Goldman Sachs Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Programs to Union Square Venture’s Fred Wilson yesterday. What’s more, he was thrilled to meet them. See what Fred has to say about these amazing women and about Girls Who Code’s work to bring CS education to young women across the country below!
Dear Friends and Family,
Today we welcome Melanie, Yessica, Moie, and Emelyn. These young women join the ranks of the Girls Who Code Class of 2013, spanning five cities, eight programs, and a network of hundreds of industry professionals.
These young women are self-described human rights activists, poets, and aspiring biomedical engineers, and they are all here for one purpose—they want to learn to code and change the world.
Today, we are thrilled to announce Girls Who Code’s nationwide expansion and the launch of the 2013 Summer Immersion Programs in New York City, Detroit, Davis, San Francisco, and San Jose. Beginning this month, 160 young women will be joining classrooms inside Twitter, Intel, eBay, Goldman Sachs, GE, AT&T, Cornell Tech, and IAC, where each will receive over 300 hours of hands-on experience in programming fundamentals, web development and design, robotics, and mobile development. They will tour the halls of Google, Microsoft, and Twitter, and meet the likes of Sheryl Sandberg and Jack Dorsey.
With a group this passionate about technology and social impact, we can only imagine what they will create.
Here at Girls Who Code HQ, our team has grown from 1 to 33, including program teams in New York City, Detroit, and San Francisco, as well as the instructors and teaching assistants who make our work possible. The quality of people that we’ve brought on is unparalleled.
And we continue to grow. In the next month, we’ll be launching the first ever Teachers Who Code pilot program, working to equip teachers throughout New York City with the skills and resources to become computer science advocates and teachers in their schools. Following successful pilots in New York City, Boston and Philadelphia, we’ll be rolling out Girls Who Code Clubs across the country this fall, providing computer science education and exposure designed to scale.
In the meantime, stay tuned for more from Melanie, Yessica, Emelyn, and Moie, and be sure to check out the latest from Girls Who Code programs across the country on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We can’t wait to share what they’ve made possible!
Thank you for all that you do!
The Girls Who Code Team
P.S. Our 2012 Girls Who Code alumnae gathered yesterday to share their advice with the Class of 2013—check out Arianna and her words of wisdom above!