Girls Who Code Club members with varying levels of programming expertise gathered to learn coding skills at an hour-long event with Stanford’s Girls Teaching Girls to Code (GTGTC) organization on Nov. 20, 2015. The Hour of Code, which took place in the BHS Alumni Room, is an annual national event that is integral to San Mateo Union High School District’s Girls Who Code Club’s mission- to expose computer science to girls at an early age.
The 20 BHS attendees coded either a game or animation from the official Hour of Code website (www.code.org). Notable projects included creating the popular video game Minecraft or animating characters Anna and Elsa from Disney’s Frozen.
The successful turnout signaled a keen interest in programming among high school girls.
“Many of the girls from the event were very intrigued by computer science,” junior club co-president Maggie Chang noticed.
SMUHSD Girls Who Code Club co-presidents Maggie Chang and Stephanie Mark hope that their club will both raise awareness of computer science and help close the tech industry’s gender gap. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 0.4% of high school girls decide to major in computer science. Additionally, statistics show that the demand for computer science jobs will exceed supply for computer science students. By 2020, there will be 1.4 million new computer science jobs but only 400,000 computer science students. This huge shortage of computer scientists will hopefully provide motivation for more girls to enter the field, filling both the worker gap and the gender gap.
The lack of gender diversity is one of the tech industry’s most pressing issues.
“This past summer, on the way to Intuit Inc. for an Immersion Program with Girls Who Code, I noticed that the shuttle to Intuit consisted of all men,” Chang said. “The lack of women in the tech industry is very much prevalent today. People still use terms like ‘brogrammer’ that exclude women from tech opportunities.”
Currently, the Girls Who Code Club meets every Sunday at the Burlingame Public Library for two hours and is guided by two female computer scientists from Apple and Twitter. The club members also participate in monthly field trips or workshops to technology companies and museums. Chang and Mark further advertise upcoming Bay Area tech events through posters around campus, Facebook, and Schoolloop.
As a GTGTC high school lead liaison, Chang also seeks to expand future Hour of Code events with speakers, workshops, and hardware.
For interested students, applications for the Girls Who Code Club will open next school year in September.