Girls Who Code: Building A Movement

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This story was originally published on Huffington Post.

This summer Girls Who Code taught 1,560 girls computer science across the US. During the past seven weeks, girls from all over the nation got hands-on experience learning and writing code, went on field trips to local tech companies, heard from a variety of guest speakers in the field, and met weekly with their employee mentors. They developed final projects addressing real-world issues. From games to raise awareness about racial inequality and gun violence, to websites helping solve climate change, to apps that can track the spread of diseases, our girls are now using technology and computer science to solve problems in their community, in their country, and in their world.

In 2012, Girls Who Code started off as one program with 20 girls in a conference room in New York City. This summer, we launched 78 Summer Immersion Programs across 11 cities, and we’ll have our Clubs program in every US state launching this fall. By the end of 2016, we’ll have reached 40,000 girls since our founding, and we’ll continue to scale until we close the gender gap in tech once and for all.

Growth like this just isn’t possible without partners like Adobe. This summer is Adobe’s third year sponsoring and hosting Summer Immersion Programs, growing from one program in 2014 to five programs in 2016 in New York City, San Jose, San Francisco and Seattle. This year, 100 female employees and 60 female summer interns volunteered as mentors for our girls, and four full-time, female Adobe software engineers took a hiatus from their career to teach the program. At Girls Who Code we always say, ‘You cannot be, what you cannot see,’ and partners like Adobe really walk the walk when it comes to introducing our girls to new role models in the field.

Reshma at the Girls Who Code Graduation event.

Reshma speaking at the Girls Who Code Graduation event.

I was recently lucky enough to attend their New York graduation ceremony right in the heart of Times Square. Twenty girls from all walks of life shared with us with their experiences from the summer and presented their final projects. One group presented a game they created called “In the Eyes of a Refugee,” which they developed to raise awareness about the Syrian refugee crisis. Another group presented their project “Autism Connect NYC,” which maps after-school resources for children with autism and provides opportunities for groups to connect. Another group was building LED wearables, and another group of girls set off to address their frustrations with media coverage by developing a website where users can not only read about the news, but find resources to take action.

As summer comes to an end and our girls graduate from our programs, parents in particular ask me, “What’s next?” They recognize the doors that have now been opened for their daughters, and they want resources for continuing their interests in tech. What I tell parents is that this is only the beginning. Last year we launched a campaign called #HireMe to get companies to share internship opportunities and host workshops for our Alumni Network. Adobe was one of our first partners to jump on board and is now an Alumni Network Founding Supporter. They, too, recognize that the industry pipeline is leaky, and know that in order to get girls into tech jobs, we need to support them throughout their journey.

Girls Who Code isn’t just an organization—we’re building a movement. My dream is to give every girl across the nation access to high quality computer science education. Thanks to partners like Adobe, we’re no longer just talking about closing the gender gap in tech, we’re actually doing it.

Get a glimpse into Adobe’s GWC New York program experience through this Spark page, and learn more about the Adobe and GWC partnership and Adobe’s Corporate Responsibility initiatives here.