By John Lee
Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are four different areas of study, yet they are predominantly composed of just one gender. Although women are leaving their mark in the STEM field each day, young female students with big dreams still find themselves having to overcome many obstacles in order to get there.
Since 2012, the organization, Girls Who Code, has made it its mission to give young women the chance to get a foothold in this male-dominated scientific community by exposing them to the language of coding.
Girls Who Code took these girls through an immersive experience with coding at locations such as Google headquarters and Mount Saint Mary’s University.
“I didn’t have any prior experience, yet we were given a lot of challenging projects and experiments that were sometimes frustrating, but really fun and rewarding,” Limon said.
Yet, after learning and networking at places like the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the NBC Universal data centers, after creating websites and working with dancing robots, after connecting with interesting internships and employment opportunities, these students left with much more than proficiency in programming.
“Girls Who Code opened up so many doors for me. I’m currently getting paid to work on two different websites, and I’m also looking into some scholarships and internships that I now have access to because of the program,” Perez said. She believes that her experiences have turned her towards a career in software engineering.
The impact of Girls Who Code also continues to impact these students in more than just their career opportunities.
“We really formed friendships that we’ll never forget. We had so much fun working together, like we were a different family. No one was competing, but we were all just helping each other succeed and rise up,” Limon said.
Both Perez and Limon continue to work with the program through the Girl’s Who Code club at our school, hoping to help the overall organization attain their admirable goal of exposing one million young women to computer science by the year 2020.
“As females, society has told us that we can’t succeed. Girls Who Code has taught us that we can, if we just put our minds to it. Together, we want to create more diversity so that we can all be treated the same,” Perez said.
In this age of technology, the organization hopes to cultivate a generation of role models for girls all over the world.
“There is still a huge disparity between genders, but just like technology is always changing, so are ideals,” Limon said. “Hopefully, one day, girls will know that we can do anything.”