Girls from Basking Ridge and Bernardsville learn to code through the national initiative, Girls Who Code(GWC).
The GWC program is a national nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in the technology and engineering sectors. With support from public and private partners, Girls Who Code works to educate, inspire, and equip high school girls with the skills and resources to pursue opportunities in computing fields and close the gender gap in technology.
The U.S. Department of Labor projects that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings. Yet U.S. universities are expected to produce only enough qualified graduates to fill 29% of these jobs and Women are on track to fill just 3%. The gender gap in computing has actually been getting worse since the 1980s. In 1984, 37% of all computer science graduates were women. Now that number is just 18%. While interest in computer science ebbs over time, the biggest drop off happens between the ages of 13-17.
Girls Who Code aims to reverse this trend and inspire the largest pipeline of future female engineers in the United States. The club is set up by local volunteers with engagement from local non-profit host facilities. The Club’s Program is free and open to girls from 6th- 12th graders. The Bernardsville Library serves as a host location serving students in the immediate area.
An entirely Volunteer led initiative, the club was started in Fall 2016 by Basking Ridge residents Susmita Murthy and Sanyogita Shamsunder and is supported by volunteer teachers from the community.
About 20 enthusiastic students from Basking Ridge and Bernardsville gather for two hours a week to learn the Core4 computer science concepts that form the basis for all computer programming languages. The Core4 concepts — loops, variables, conditionals, and functions — are critical whether girls want to build a mobile application, a website, or program a robot.
Club members can gain more experience with participation over multiple years. In subsequent years, they will have the opportunity to explore more advanced concepts to enhance their participation in the Community Impact Project.
During the course of the program, the girls also got an opportunity to go on a behind the scenes tour of the NBA office in Secaucus, Ridge Marketing in Basking Ridge and the Verizon headquarters in Bedminster where they witnessed the wireless testing room and the audio chamber. These visits allowed them to gain exposure to local companies using technology in innovative ways.
The Girls Who Code program concluded with an interactive coding demonstration for the parents where almost every girl expressed a keen interest in continuing to learn coding in the coming years.