Reshma Saujani is the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, which Knight Foundation supports to help address the shortage of women in technology. Below, Saujani writes about launching the initiative in Miami. Photo credit: Girls Who Code.
Since we started Girls Who Code in 2012, there have been a lot of proud moments.
There was the first day of class, when a 16-year-old girl who was so shy she could barely speak at the beginning of the day stood up to show a room full of people the website she had started building.
And then there was the time when 20 young women from our inaugural program opened personal letters from President Obama, congratulating them on their accomplishments as graduates of Girls Who Code and wishing them success in college and in their careers.
Last summer, I even sat at a conference table at Facebook headquarters and watched in awe while our girls pitched the apps they had designed to Sheryl Sandberg, the social network company’s chief operating officer.
Today is another milestone for Girls Who Code. With support from Knight Foundation, Girls Who Code is coming to Miami. We debuted the program in two other Knight communities, Detroit and San Jose, last year.
As a national nonprofit that aims to educate and equip girls with the computing skills they need to pursue 21st century opportunities, Girls Who Code is working to close the gender gap in technology and build a pipeline of female engineers and entrepreneurs.
Miami is a natural fit for us. It’s a city with the diversity and creative possibility to lead the world in innovation, and our programs will help ensure that the enormous potential of young women is tapped as Miami’s tech community grows.
Starting next week, we’ll be accepting applications for our 2014 Summer Immersion Program – an unforgettable seven-week course that pairs computer science education with field trips to top tech companies and mentorship from amazing women in the industry.
The program is set to launch in June and run throughout the summer. We plan to hold two programs in Miami, reaching a total of 40 local 10th- and 11th-grade girls who have a passion for technology, regardless of prior coding experience.
Our students learn to program robots in Python, master Web design and user experience, build creative and complex mobile applications, and develop Web and mobile applications to enhance their communities.
They form friendships that translate into a strong alumni network, where students share tips and encourage one another to continue coding. Most importantly, they build the products they want to see in the world, and develop a lifelong passion for technology.
At the end of last summer, 95 percent of our girls said they are definitely or more likely to consider a major or minor in computer science, and 99 percent of participants said they are considering a career in technology. Ninety-nine percent said they would recommend Girls Who Code to other girls.
With the U.S. Department of Labor estimating that 1.4 million jobs will be open in computing fields by 2020, and women earning just 12 percent of computer science degrees, this is the kind of movement we need to ensure that our young women are at the forefront of technology and innovation.