Inspiring Young Women to Learn Computer Science

What better time to highlight the nonprofit Girls Who Code than Computer Science Education Week? Held annually in honor of the late computer pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, the week’s activities are designed to inspire K-12 students to take an interest in computer science.

Girls Who Code has a similar mission and also works to close the gender gap, which has grown at an alarming rate when it comes to technology. According to the nonprofit, in 1984, 37 percent of all computer science graduates were women; today that percentage has shrunk to 18 percent. Girls Who Code has an ambitious near-term goal of providing computer science education and exposure to 1 million young women by 2020.

This past July, VMware hosted a number of Girls Who Code students at the VMware headquarters in Palo Alto as part of a seven-week Summer Immersion Program. The students took computer science classes, worked on challenging projects, and learned from female mentors at VMware’s headquarters.

During the program, VMware interviewed several of the participants about their interest in coding and the Girls Who Code program.

Grace, 15 years old, said there’s a difference between boys and girls when it comes to coding and computer science. “It takes a level of inner strength to enter this field since we’re a minority,” she says. “When we do, there are typically some people who might doubt how good we are at a certain task. If we do make a little mistake, we might face more criticism than a guy who codes. Because of that we have to be stronger, and it takes more work to prove we are the same level as a guy who codes.”

Samantha, 17, said being able to spend time at VMware was great because it gave her a good sense of what working at a real company was like. “Plus being at the VMware campus was really awesome,” she added.

Thanks to the efforts of Girls Who Code and others, a new generation of female technologists will undoubtedly have a great impact on society.