Girls Who Code Founder To Address National Governors Association: “Keep an eye on gender”

Girls Who Code to host first-ever hackathon at NGA’s Summer Meeting, where girls use code to tackle policy challenges

PROVIDENCE, RI (JULY 14, 2017) — Girls Who Code Founder and CEO, Reshma Saujani, will address more than 30 governors at a plenary session at the National Governor’s Association (NGA) Annual Summer Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island today. In response to the growing gender gap in computer science education, Saujani will urge state leaders to “keep an eye on gender” as they increase investment in K-12 computer science education by tracking gender data, setting benchmarks for progress, and encouraging girls’ participation through Girls Who Code Clubs.

“We can’t change what we don’t count, “ said Saujani, “Computing is where the jobs are now and in the future, and girls are being left behind. Today, only 1 in 5 spots in computer science classes are girls. As states expand access to computer science education, we can and must close this gender gap.”

This is Girls Who Code’s first year at the NGA and to demonstrate the power and potential of coding, the non-profit will host the first-ever hackathon with 30 middle and high school girls. Participants will use coding concepts to tackle real world policy problems around access to healthcare, education, cybersecurity, and public infrastructure. Saujani will open the event with Governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, who chairs the National Governor’s Association Computer Science Caucus. Saujani and Council of Chief State School Officers’ (CCSSA) “2017 National Teacher of the Year,” Sydney Chaffee will judge the hackathon’s final projects.

On Saturday, July 15, 2017, Saujani will speak to the Governors about the importance of coding in an innovation economy, particularly in regions where automation is replacing manufacturing jobs. She will share a powerful story about a family whose daughter is part of a Girls Who Code Club in Carrollton, Ohio who sees coding as a pathway to prosperity for their daughter and community. Saujani will also urge leaders to take a pledge to bring Girls Who Code’s free after-school Clubs program to communities, like Carrollton, across the U.S.

“We’re encouraging states to put girls at the forefront of every computer science agenda,” said Corinne Roller, Girls Who Code’s Director of Advocacy and Public Policy. “Teaching girls to code fills gaps in the workforce and strengthens local economies, yet we have a long way to go to close the gender gap in K-12 computer science education. As a first step, we need to start measuring the problem. There is dangerously little data about girls in K-12 computer science education, which is a critical time for driving interest and exposure to the field.”

Girls Who Code Clubs launched in 2013 to expand computer science access to all 50 states. The program runs throughout the academic year, and is for 6-12th grade girls to use computer science to impact their community and join a community of supportive peers and role models. According to data from the organization’s 2016 alumni survey, 75% of Clubs participants indicated they want to go on to take a computer science class in their school, and 65% of participants intend to major or minor in computer science.

To learn more about Girls Who Code, including starting a Club in your area, visit www.girlswhocode.com/Clubs.