NEW YORK — School was out and summer had finally arrived, but instead of hanging out at the beach teenager Jocelyn Stevens was sitting in front of a computer, using a software program to design jewelry. With just a click of her mouse, Stevens created a ring and used a 3D printer to produce it.
Before taking part in the eight-week summer program Girls Who Code, 16-year-old Stevens said the only thing she knew about technology was how to play computer games.
She wanted to change that.
“I felt like this program would benefit me, and I felt like I would rather do something that would be benefit me, than not doing anything [this summer],” Stevens said.
Now, Stevens is familiar with mobile applications. Last week she worked with her team – three other girls in the program — to create an app that shows parents where they can take their families around New York City.
“Somewhere in my future, not so far from now, I could see myself doing computer science,” she said.
And that’s exactly what Girls Who Code aims to do: develop a passion for technology among girls who have not had much exposure to the field.
The program was created by Reshma Saujani, a former deputy public advocate for New York City.
“I think that this world would look like a very different place if we had more female developers and coders and engineers and entrepreneurs,” said Saujani. “Girls are so passionate about technology…it’s simply not the case that they aren’t interested and it’s not the case that they’re not good at it….it’s just that there’s a perception out there that they’re not interested, that they’re not as good as the boys and that’s exactly what we’re changing every single day.”
Saujani ran for Congress in 2010 and was struck by the number of girls in a public housing project who were interested in technology but did not have the resources to pursue it.
“They had like one computer in the basement of a church,” said Saujani. “And then I’d be on the Upper East Side at a private school where there was a robotics lab — and you saw how technology can be a huge equalizer, but it can enhance poverty if we’re not giving young girls and young boys equal access.”
The inequalities Saujani witnessed motivated her to start Girls Who Code this year. The students in the program are diverse, representing 12 different countries.
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