Inside a Day at the Girls Who Code Summer Program
STEM In middle school, 74 percent of girls express interest in STEM subjects yet less than 1 percent choose computer science as a college major.
Unfortunately, even though there are expected to be 1.4 million jobs in computing fields by 2020, women educated in America are on pace to fill just 3 percent of them.
“Closing the gender gap in technology will take more than just a few committed voices,” says Reshma Saujani, CEO of Girls Who Code. “It will take a huge effort from our schools and policy makers to expose more girls to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines at a young age.”
Saujani hopes Girls Who Code will be a critical first step for many girls. Among other offerings, it has summer immersion programs that teach innovative coding techniques to girls at the offices of leading technology companies. Here is what a sample day of one program looked like for one student, Caitlin Stanton:
My dad shakes me awake, making sure not to wake my little sister, who’s sleeping on the other side of the curtain.
Girls Who Code starts at 9 a.m., but nearly everyone from my class travels from Long Island or Newark or deep Brooklyn, meaning that they have to arrive early.
Lindsey is our teacher, and Billy and Grace our teaching assistants. I don’t think any better teachers and teaching assistants could’ve been chosen for our class. They settle us down immediately with our warm-up exercise for the day. Sometimes it’s making a website straight out of the ‘90s, finding the perfect song to coordinate a robot dance party to, or researching today’s speakers to collect at least three questions to ask them.
“Since that summer immersion program, I have taken nearly all of the computer science courses at my school.”
Lunch was a wonderful time at Goldman Sachs with brown lunch boxes and either a cookie or a bag of chips—and, on one glorious day, both.
Lindsey gets us all together in a circle to say our highs and lows of the day. We normally allot 30 minutes for this daily ritual, but we’ll end up leaving by 4:30 p.m.
It’s time to chill in Rockefeller Park with some fries from Shake Shack or watch a movie at the theater nearby.
When I first applied for Girls Who Code, it was only to get a step up in the engineering world. I never expected to spend my days surrounded by people as clueless as I was, but still just as eager and excited to learn. My time on the Grace Hopper team at Girls Who Code really showed me the world of computer science beyond the string of characters you type out on your screen.
Since that summer immersion program, I have taken nearly all of the computer science courses at my school. This summer, I was an intern for the #BUILTBYGIRLS brand at AOL, a job opportunity I received from being an alumna of Girls Who Code. I’ll be off to Cornell University in the fall, where I’ll be studying computer engineering. Every day I strive to learn and grow as a person, and I hope to continue on that track for as long as I possibly can.