Jennifer Forgit, Cary Memorial Library; Liz Newton, Newon Free Library
They have both implemented this program in their libraries. Both are more affluent communities, but this program is affordable for any library. http://girlswhocode.com/
GWC is a national, non-profit organization that has been around since 2012 that offers computer education for girls in grades 6-12. They are also learning great social skils and get a lot out of the club aspect of the program. This can be held anywhere.
When girls select a college major, only .4% choose computer science. This is a wake up call for us. In 1984, 37% of these grads were female. Today, only 18%. The oppotunity is there. Why aren’t girls going into computer science?
Failing is ok with computer science. It almost makes people take you more seriously.
GWC is to create these opportunities for girls. What about boys? If you have a co-ed club, it can’t be called GWC. Jennifer said it would be their approach if the question came up, but it didn’t. Lots of their programs are co-ed. For GWC, the curriculum is already there, and you don’t need to know code to offer this program. It has really increased and reached over 10,000 girls in 2015.
There is another program called “Hire Me” where companies like Facebook are on board. Candidates who have GWC on resumes are noticed and hired.
Some of the first candidates are now in college and being polled. More of them are saying they want to be in computer science. The summer immersion program is having a big impact.
So why do we need to advocate for this? It will bring in new patrons and position our libraries to be in the tech field. We want to be a place where we are teaching girls great things.
1) It will bring more teens into the library.
Liz said the girls are coming in and being introduced to other library programs. It also changes the perception that people have at the library.
2) Girls learn real-world tech tools.
This is also meant to be a club. It’s not school, and is fun. It’s like hiding carrots in the mac and cheese.
3) Incredible Guest Speakers
There are people in our communities who want to talk to these clubs. Liz had a guy who worked for Twitter speak to her group.
4) Positive Social Environment
Girls are getting social skills, learn how to public speak, work on projects and also have an adult mentor. All of this builds resiliency, especially in high-risk communities.
5) Allows you to teach tech to teens that are different levels
The girls take a quiz to see the level they are at, but everything happens simultaneously.
6) FIeld Trips
To start, you go online and create an account. Now is a great time to start because the clubs run in the fall and end in the spring. Liz had a session starting in September with parents.
What are challenges? Admin might have a hard time buying in because it’s “girls only.” Who will be the club advisor? You don’t have to be great at computer science and really just be on hand.
They have a designated computer space, but girls can also bring their own laptops.
They also have volunteer instructors. It’s helpful to have more than one volunteer. These folks should be good who work with teens. A computer science background is important, but it’s not needed.