Coding Camps For Girls That Are Changing the World

The third annual International Day of the Girl is celebrated on Oct. 11 to help girls around the world advance their lives and reach their full potential. We're honoring the day by shining a spotlight on coding camps empowering women to join tech. The number of women in tech still dwindles: just 14 percent of executive positions in tech companies are held by women, and only three percent of tech start-ups are founded by women. Men outnumber women by a huge margin in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, but several female-powered programs are looking to change the ratio and lure more ladies into coding and programming.

Increasing the much-needed presence of women in tech starts with nurturing the next generation, and the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles are on it. In partnership with Women in Games International, the Girl Scouts are introducing a new video game designer patch requiring members to program games (unlike the Boy Scout version, which can be earned by just designing).

While the Girl Scouts' video game designer patch is not nationally recognized yet, Women in Games International's CEO Sheri Rubin told NBC that the organization is working to prove the patch is effective for fourth through sixth graders, before expanding to grades seven through 12 across the US.

If you're beyond your scouting years, don't give up just yet. All-female, career-changing coding camps are cropping up all around the country. Join your sisters in software and learn to code at one of these girl-powered programming courses.

  • App Camp 4 Girls — Girls in grades 6 through 8 take two-week long sessions where they brainstorm, design, code, and pitch their apps. Registration for the Portland camp has closed, but applications for Seattle are still available. App Camp is also gauging interest around the country. Register as a future camper if you want this program in your city!
  • Geek Girl Camp — Around the country, Geek Girl Camp hosts conferences and meet ups to connect with other women learning to code. All skill levels, from newbies just getting their hands on HTML to more advanced engineers interested in building and marketing their own apps, are welcome.
  • Hackbright Academy — This ten-week fellowship for women in San Francisco, CA teaches web development fundamentals like HTML and Javascript, as well as computer science fundamentals. Hackbright will introduce their students to some of Silicon Valley's biggest companies, including Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
  • Rails Girls — The Finland-based Ruby on Rails workshop for girls is now an international volunteer community that empowers women to learn sketching, prototyping, and basic programming.
  • Women's Coding Collective — Take a trip to HTML Tagville, learn CSS basics, grow baby websites into web apps with PHP, and more with online, collaborative web development courses by Web Start Women.
  • Girl Develop It — "Don't be shy. Develop it." The women-empowerment organization is certified by the Board of Education to provide affordable software development programs in 16 cities around the world. New chapters are on their way this Summer.
  • Girls Who Code — The program aims to provide computer science education to one million young women by 2020. The NYC-based organization launches programs in New York, Detroit, San Francisco, and San Jose this year.
  • Black Girls Code — Young and preteen girls of color can learn programming and computer science skills at one of the organization's workshops. Black Girls Code hosts classes at events all around the US and even in South Africa.
  • Girls Learning Code — The Canadian-based coding camp and workshop is targeted to creative 9- to 13-year-old girls. The curriculum is focused on using technology as a tool for "changing the world."
  • Shine For Girls — This free 8-week program for middle schoolers uses dance to help break down girls' mental barriers and help them realize that they can understand and excel in math. Girls learn math through kinesthetic techniques and team problem solving sessions led by a mentor. It's limited to Boston, Chicago, and D.C. areas for now.