The numbers are daunting. Only 3.6% of Fortune 500 companies are led by women. Less than 14% of computer science degrees are awarded to women. But the evidence for action is clear. Studies show that technology companies with more women on their management teams have a 34% higher return on investment. Companies with women on technical teams increase teams’ problem-solving ability and creativity. There is a need for girls and women who can code!
Intel is working with an organization called Girls Who Code which is a new organization working to educate, inspire and equip underserved 13- to 17-year-old girls with the skills and resources to pursue opportunities in technology and engineering. They started this year with an 8 week course in New York City for 20 girls from a diversity of backgrounds. The course includes computer programming science education, paired with intensive instruction in robotics, web design, and mobile development.
In just the past six weeks the girls have worked on developing applications that help families locate events and activities and guide tourists throughout the city. They have designed websites and built apps that range from spreading awareness on environmental factors to providing real-time stats of the upcoming elections.
We collaborated with them to lead a two day ideation camp where the girls developed solutions to address the problems faced by immigrants in NYC. This was a topic they selected because they felt it was relevant to their lives and communities. The winning team focused on helping immigrant youth who “are not learning enough in their ESL programs.” Another team focused on how to help female immigrant domestic workers learn about their rights and entitlements.
A week later, Intel hosted a full day hackathon with the girls to turn their ideas into reality- whether it was creating a plan or prototype for an app to solve the problems, or developing strategies for their final projects. They learned about developer culture, what it’s like to intensively work on a solution in a constrained period of time, and the art of collaboration and working in groups. At the end of the day, when asked what the biggest challenge they faced during the hackathon was– many girls replied “coming up with an idea”. They were surprised how challenging this was, but it was a good challenge, that really engaged their creativity.
This organization, like many of our strategic collaborations, gives us hope that the new generation will change the status quo, get more girls excited, interested and inspired about STEM, and bring great leadership and energy to the tech industry.
Follow girls who code on twitter for more info: @GirlsWhoCode