BlackGirlsCode (www.blackgirlscode.com) was founded in 2011 to introduce girls of color from underrepresented communities to computer programming through workshops and after school programs that teach basic programming skills in Scratch, Ruby on Rails and other contemporary programming languages. Recent activities with Pivotal Labs in San Francisco as part of the annual Golden Gate Ruby Conference and classes for kids at the Silicon Valley Code Camp have broadened awareness of the fledgling group and demonstrated that girls of every color have the technical inclination and logical reasoning skills to become extremely creative programmers.
“Our mission is to empower young women of color to become the masters of their technological universe and make a real contribution in STEM fields such as the software industry and society,” notes Kimberly Bryant, BlackGirlsCode founder and a biotechnology engineering professional that received her first taste of computer programming as a college freshman, “back when Fortran and Pascal were popular languages,” she jokes.
“Although the digital divide is steadily eroding, tremendous barriers remain for the entry of women and minorities into the various technology and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine) fields,” notes Bryant. “Our program is designed to help build a future for very bright yet often very isolated young ladies by connecting them with visionary members of the technology community to foster opportunities for their continued exposure to STEM fields such as computer programming and the eventual entry into the workforce as tech entrepreneurs and leaders.”
BlackGirlsCode launched the first of many coding workshops on October 29, 2011. Sponsored by the 100% College Prep Institute (a longstanding Bayview/Hunters Point community organization), the six-week pilot program is expected to draw more than ten girls between the ages of 6-12 and will feature training exercises in Scratch, game development and Ruby/Python coding.
Bryant feels it was important to launch the initial pilot program in the community in which most of her target audience resides in order to reach the girls she was looking to serve. Bryant selected the initial course curriculum because Scratch, Ruby, and Python are widely accessible open source programming languages and there are many seasoned professionals who can serve as mentors in the San Francisco Bay area. Additional courses in Robotics and mobile app development are planned for early 2012 when the program resumes after the pilot launch.
Future activities of the organization will include field trips to area tech companies and startups. The organization seeks to expand the exposure of the girls to even more opportunities for learning and growth and looks to establish corporate sponsorships and partnerships with software companies, hardware manufacturers and community organizations that are seeking to stimulate the Bay Area economy by developing young talent that is based right in their back yards.
To see reflections on the BlackGirlsCode program from its members visit http://www.blackgirlscode.com/blog.html. For information on the October 2011 workshop or to become a sponsor of the non-profit organization contact [email protected] Twitter: @Blackgirlscode/ Facebook: http://facebook.com/BlackGirlsCodeOrg
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