In order to get girls to enter into the field of technology, AT&T, WNY STEM Hub, SUNY Buffalo State and the Girls Scouts of Western New York have come up with the region’s first computer coding program called It’s Your World! Develop It! Powered by AT&T. The program is designed to engage girls’ interest in learning coding skills, so that they may enter career driven industries associated with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). At this point, the tech coding world is primarily dominated by males.
“We realized the need for a girl coding education program in the region when it became evident that our tactic of introducing girls to computer science professionals and careers in STEM was not having the desired success in capturing their attention and that we needed to do something innovative to engage local girls,” said WNY STEM Hub President, Michelle Kavanaugh. “It is undeniable that there is an increasing need for more woman in the robust coding sector and programs like this one, which are common in major tech hubs around the nation. Innovative ways are needed to encourage girls to follow this career path and we are thankful for all the organizations that have collaborated to make it a reality.”
To start, 40 girls from local urban middle and high schools will be selected to participate in the program over the next five months. The program will take place after school and on weekends. The girls will collaborate on projects that will benefit their own schools and the community. By the end of the program, the participants will be well on their way towards being able to create their own apps, digital storyboards, animated movies, learning games, and/or basic websites.
It is estimated by 2020 there will be 2.4 million unfilled STEM jobs with more than half made up of computer and coding careers.
“AT&T is proud to collaborate with these dynamic organizations to develop and support this innovative experience for girls as it further enhances our commitment to providing resources for STEM-related educational programming throughout Western New York and builds upon our vigorous efforts to bridge the gender gap in the technology industry,” said Marissa Shorenstein, New York president, AT&T. “Our economy continues to transform at a robust pace – requiring a workforce with a focus on technological education and literacy – and computer science programs like this one are vital to ensure that the students of today, despite gender, are equipped to compete in the global innovation economy of tomorrow.”
Girls in urban settings often lack the family and community support systems to help them succeed in nontraditional female fields.
Registration for the program is only $25, which helps to level the economic playing field. Girls without laptops will be provided a refurbished model free of charge. Girls will also be given one year Girl Scout memberships for free. The program will conclude with an event called “Girls Success Code”, which will be held in tandem with National Computer Science Education Week in December 2016.
“A critical element in our programming is to provide girls with viable platforms to explore and take the lead in STEM career fields,” said Judith Cranston, CEO of Girl Scouts of Western New York. “Collaboration is the key to help level the playing field for girls to thrive in STEM professions and we are proud to partner with WNY STEM, AT&T, Buffalo State, and others on the Girls Coding Program.”
- Computers For Children will assist with delivery of coding instruction and provide repurposed computers.
- Women coders from Girl Develop It, Buffalo Chapter, and local firms will serve as role models and supplemental instructors.
- Retired Teachers group of the Science Teachers Association will provide mentors and community organizations and schools will provide project challenges from which the girls can choose.
“I am proud of the innovative ways our faculty reaches out to middle and high school teachers and their students to ensure that young people know about the many opportunities available to them in the STEM fields. We are excited to build upon our extensive STEM outreach through this initiative,” said Buffalo State President Katherine Conway-Turner. “As a former Girl Scout, I am thrilled to partner with an organization known for encouraging future female leaders. Together, we have the chance to offer a cutting-edge program for girls in our community which promises to seed a new generation of creative leaders within computer science.”
The inaugural class will start in July with a Coding Day Camp for Girls weekdays from July 18 – 29, also a regional first, at Buffalo State’s new $36 million Technology Building, which is home to the college’s Computer Information Systems (CIS) Department.
To register, girls and their parents must visit http://www.gswny.org and click on the It’s Your World! Develop It! Powered by AT&T link under upcoming events on the homepage.