It's no secret that men overwhelmingly dominate the tech world, with only 18% of computing jobs in the U.S. held by women. But mobile payments company Square has made it its mission to help rectify the situation by helping young women and girls become engineers.
Last year, the company launched Code Camp, a program aimed at young women who are interested in computer science. Square is putting the program on again in 2013, but this time it is changing things up a bit.
The first time around the company offered one, three-day program for a total of fifteen winners, but Square is now splitting the program up into two parts: it is still offering the shorter program for college-age women (now a four-day long program offered to twenty winners) but also a new, eight-month long program aimed at high school girls, the company announced Wednesday.
In 2011, only 19% of those who took the AP Computer Science exam were women and, currently, there are no AP Computer Science courses in San Francisco. Square wants to do something to fix that problem with the launch of the first annual High School Code Camp.
The program is designed to prepare young women for the AP Computer Science exam, which can be applied to college credit.
Participants will learn to program through classes that cover computer science curriculum and other coding skills. They will participate in discussions, lab time, pair programming, and homework assignments from Square engineers.
Every fourth week in the program will be a Hack Week, where students will learn Android app programming. They will be paired with a Square mentor for assistance. At the end of the program, the team will build an Android mobile app, with complete creative control over the project.
To be eligible, participants must be a current high school female student attending a public or private high school in San Francisco. Classes will be held at Square on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 6pm from October 28th, 2013 until May 6th, 2014.
Applications for the program must be submitted by September 27th. Eight participants will be selected to attend.
Square will also be holding its four-day program for college students from January 7th through 11th, 2014. To be eligible, the participants must be at least 18 years old, enrolled as a full-time student at a U.S. or Canadian university and be pursuing a degree in computer science, computer engineering, or a related technical major.
For the shorter program, students do not need to live in the Bay Area; Square will fly them out for free if they live elsewhere and provide them with a hotel.
Square also announced that it will be getting a visit from House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday, who will tour the facilities and learn about the program.
“Square has a unique understanding of the strength, creativity, and savvy that women bring to the business table,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Women students and entrepreneurs are the cornerstones of a brighter future for our economy, our communities, and our country, and Square’s Code Camp will teach, mentor, and mold the next generation of coding engineers who will help ensure America remains a global leader in technology and innovation.”
Learning to code
Code Camp is obviously not the only program that attempts to teach young people the skills to become engineers and programmers. It is not even the only one aimed at women and girls.
There is also Girls Who Code, a New York-based initiative that is designed to help teach girls how to code so that they can pursue careers in technology and engineering. The company has plans to branch out to Detroit, San Francisco, and San Jose this year.
In its first six months, the non-profit organization saw 3.5 million students attempt to code on the Code.org site, specifically on this page, which offers potential students a taste of four different online coding courses, from Scratch, Kahn Academy, Codeacademy and CodeHS.
(Image source: https://squareup.com)