Girls Who Code club encourages young women to pursue computer science

Posted Apr 18, 2019

Girls Who Code club

By: Aselya Sposato ’21

Otterbein University and JPMorgan Chase are working together to help educate girls and young women in the community to pursue careers in computer science through a campus-based chapter of Girls Who Code. 

Girls Who Code was founded in 2010 and is a national movement with the
mission of closing the gender gap in technology through after-school clubs,
summer courses and summer immersion programs. These programs are offered to
girls of all ages and focus on developing computer science and coding skills.

“Women and girls across the country are
coming together to correct centuries-long power imbalances across lines of
gender, race, sexuality, and more,” said Founder and CEO Reshma Saujani on the
organization’s website. “Girls Who Code is proud to be a part of this movement,
and even prouder because our girls – girls of all races and ethnicities and
abilities and zip codes – are leading it.”

According to the organization’s website, in 1995, 37 percent of computer scientists were women. Today, it’s
only 24 percent. In approximately 10
years, the number of women in computing will decrease to just 22 percent.  

Former Otterbein University President Kathy Krendl,
Executive Director to the Point Erin Bender, and junior computer science major
Lexi McQueen noticed this increasing problem and worked together to start a
Girls Who Code club on Otterbein’s campus in 2017.

McQueen and Celina
Hu, administrative assistant to The Point and
the Engineering Department are
currently leading the second session of Otterbein’s Girls Who Code club, which
is held on Wednesday evenings from 6-8 p.m. at The Point. This semester, girls
in the club are learning about virtual reality game development and research.

“When we first started this program last year, there were
approximately six girls who consistently came each week,” said Hu. “This year,
that number grew to about 20 girls.”

Otterbein’s Girls Who Code club has reached girls from
nearly all surrounding school districts, including Columbus, Olentangy,
South-Western, Westerville, Grandview Heights, Worthington and Dublin.

A group of software development professionals from JPMorgan
Chase also help facilitate the weekly club meetings by volunteering their time
to come speak to the girls about their careers and assist in project
development.

McQueen said she is happy to be in a position where she can
set a positive example for other girls interested in computer science and
believes Otterbein is the right place to do it.

“If anything is going to start with women and innovation, it’s going to start here,” said McQueen. “This is one of the most forward-thinking places and an environment I’m proud to be a part of.” Girls Who Code has reached over 90,000 girls and young women throughout all 50 U.S. states through their outreach programs. To find out more information, visit the Girls Who Code website at https://girlswhocode.com/.