The computer science gender gap struggle in Silicon Valley is real. A mere 17 percent of Google’s tech workers are women. It’s 15 percent at Facebook. Similar stats can be found at most of the larger tech companies.
Girls Who Code is trying to reverse those digits with an announcement of a major expansion in partnerships today.
The non-profit organization that aims to close the gender gap in technology will grow its Summer Immersion Program from 19 sessions reaching 375 girls to 60 sessions reaching 1,200 girls this year.
The 7-week program pairs girls interested in computer science education with field trips to top tech companies such as Twitter and Square. The program recruits and trains teachers and assistants, provides the curriculum, recruits the girls, curates guest speakers, manages field trips and offers mentorship to the girls during the course of each summer session.
The program needs to expand in order to reach more young women. This means partnering with more companies willing to host the girls and provide the facilities for them. Girls Who Code is adding sponsorship from Accenture, Adobe, AIG, Akamai, AOL, AppNexus, AT&T, BSA, eBay, Electronic Arts, Expedia, Facebook, GE, Goldman Sachs, Google, Groupon, IAC, IBM, Lockheed Martin, MassMutual, Microsoft, Moody’s, Pixar Animation Studios, Square, The Honest Company, Twitter, Viacom, Intel, Intuit and Verizon in order to reach its goal. Each company will host and provide mentorship to 20 young women at each of those locations during the 7 week sessions.
Sandra Vivian-Calderon heads the Girls Who Code club at Castlemont High School in Oakland, CA. She says she didn’t think she was capable of programming before participating in the program. “I would say ‘oh I don’t know what I’m doing. There are more boys so that means they are smarter or better than me’.” Vivian-Calderon was able to go through the summer program at Square headquarters this last year. “Jack [Dorsey] came in one time and told us to stay in school and that he hoped to see more girls coding in the future,” she recalled.
However, her main encouragement came from sharing a common interest with the other girls in the program. “It helped to spend time with other girls doing the same thing as me,” said Vivian-Calderon. She told TechCrunch that there are actually more girls than boys in her computer science class now, thanks to her involvement with Girls Who Code.
This large expansion for the non-profit includes the addition of Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC to its list of locations where the program is offered.
Girls Who Code adds COVERGIRL, MasterCard, and Samsung to its list of foundation partners as well. This is in addition to The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen Foundation (LAAF), Saban Family Foundation, CUNY, and Georgetown University.
The application for the 2015 Summer Immersion Program will be available on January 15, 2015.