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Congratulations to BSA’s 2016 Girls Who Code Class!

BSA’s Girls Who Code class of 2016 graduated this month, marking the end of an intensive seven-week coding program. While most of the 19 girls in the BSA classroom began the program with no knowledge of coding, they are now proficient in several programming languages, including Python, Scratch, HTML, and CSS. They have created websites and apps, met with Members of Congress, and have networked with leading women computer scientists and engineers.

Girls Who Code was founded in 2012 with the mission of closing the gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. In four years, Girls Who Code has gone from 20 girls in New York to 10,000 girls in 42 states. The program couldn’t have come at a better time. We need a well-trained pipeline of computer scientists in our software-dependent economy, and right now the software industry has more jobs than it can fill. By 2024 there will be 4.4 million jobs available in computer and information technology. Encouraging women to join this field is critical to fill this gap: Women held 36 percent of computing occupations in 1991, but just 25% in 2015.

BSA is fortunate to have member companies who are committed to contributing to the Girls Who Code mission. Not only did BSA members–including Adobe, Autodesk, IBM, Intuit, Microsoft, and Workday–sponsor Girls Who Code in several cities across the nation, they also pitched in to specifically support the BSA classroom this summer.

We would like to thank our member companies for their contributions and participation in BSA’s 2016 Girls Who Code program:

  • The BSA classroom toured Symantec’s Cyberthreat Center and received a threat briefing detailing the dangers of specific threats like zero-day attacks.
  • IBM brought Lisa Seacat DeLuca, the most prolific female inventor in IBM history, to the classroom to share her thoughts about creativity and confidence.
  • Kat Holmes, Microsoft’s Principal Design Director of Inclusive Design, spoke to the girls about viewing disabilities as opportunities rather than as disadvantages, and improving accessibility through design.
  • Microsoft hosted a mentorship workshop for the girls to hone their networking skills with female professionals from across government and industry.
  • Dell emceed the first BSA/Girls Who Code Hackathon on the Hill, where the girls presented coding projects to Members of Congress.
  • Dell also donated laptops for the girls to use during the summer program. At the graduation ceremony, we surprised the girls with the news that the laptops were theirs to keep.
Reaction photo of girls learning they could keep laptops
The 2016 BSA classroom learns they are keeping their laptops from Dell

Last year, 94% of the girls in BSA’s Girls Who Code inaugural classroom reported that the program made them more likely to pursue a major in computer science. One of this year’s students commented on the thrill she gets from coding: “My favorite part is that it really took me out of my comfort zone. I feel like I’m actually doing something. When I finish coding something, and I test it, and it works – that’s my favorite part.”

BSA is proud to play a part in teaching these bright, enthusiastic girls how to code. Congratulations to our 2016 graduates!

For more information on the 2016 BSA Girls Who Code program, visit www.bsa.org/girlswhocode.

Victoria Espinel

Author:

Victoria Espinel is a respected authority on the intersection of technology innovation, global markets and public policy. She leads strategic efforts that help shape the technology landscape in 60 countries through work in BSA’s 10 global offices.

Espinel also serves as the President of Software.org: the BSA Foundation. Software.org is an independent and nonpartisan international research organization created to help policymakers and the broader public better understand the impact that software has on our lives, our economy, and our society.

Espinel served for a decade in the White House, for both Republican and Democratic Administrations as President Obama’s advisor on intellectual property and, before that, as the first ever chief US trade negotiator for intellectual property and innovation at USTR. She was also a professor of international trade and intellectual property at the George Mason School of Law.

Espinel is a founding and ongoing co-sponsor of Girls Who Code’s Washington, DC, summer immersion program, which empowers young women to pursue careers in STEM fields. She speaks before audiences around the world to build visibility for the amazing things people can do with software, and encourages businesses, governments, and the public to support a policy environment that will enable even more software breakthroughs.

Espinel chairs the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on the Digital Economy and Society. She was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN), the principal advisory group for the US government on international trade. She holds an LLM from the London School of Economics, a JD from Georgetown University Law School, and a BS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Follow her on Twitter: @victoriaespinel.

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