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Computer Science

Stanford Student-Led Program Teaches High School Girls to Code

Even as jobs in computer science (CS) continue to increase in number, the gender gap in computing jobs persists. Women make up nearly half (47 percent) of the total college-educated workforce in the United States, but less than 15 percent of engineers are women, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. One student-led program at Stanford University that aims to close that gap is teaching Bay Area high school girls computer science skills in order to engage them in CS early on.

Founded in 2012, Girls Teaching Girls to Code (GTGTC) is a mentorship program led by Stanford women in CS who aim to inspire Bay Area high school girls to “learn programming skills, build exciting projects and develop strong relationships with mentors in the field,” according to the website. The program is sponsored by major tech companies, including Boeing, Microsoft, Zazzle, Salesforce, Facebook, Google, Dropbox and more.  

“The goal is to address the issue of diversity in CS,” said Serena Wong, a Stanford CS undergraduate and program mentor, in a Stanford News video. “In particular, we’re reaching out to girls with little to no experience to break down the activation energy required [to learn CS].”

Each spring, the organization hosts Code Camp, which brings together Stanford and UC Berkeley CS students and program mentors for a day of programming activities. At Code Camp 2016 last April, more than 80 mentors and 260 high school girls from the Bay Area participated in various activities that taught basic programming skills. Students were able to work on specific tracks in CS, including web design, artificial intelligence, computational biology, cryptography and security, and natural language progressing.

“Technology is such an important part of the future. We want to make sure that as many women [as possible] are represented in that technological advancement and revolution going forward,” said Maggie Engler, another Stanford undergraduate featured in the video.

In addition to Code Camp, the GTGTC organization holds smaller events, such as workshops and company tours, throughout the year. A list of upcoming events is available here.

To learn more, watch the video below or visit the GTGTC site.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].

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