Tech camps for girls: Don't let your daughter miss out

young girls with tablet
Credit: REUTERS/Thomas Peter

The tech industry has a dearth of female talent. As of 2013, only 26% of technology jobs were held by women, according to a review by the American Association of University Women. After peaking in the early ’80s, the percentage of computer science bachelor’s degrees received by U.S. women has steadily declined.

With the growing skills shortage in certain key areas, enticing more women into technology can only help the field as a whole. Patricia Barber helps lead Girls in Technology, which offers a mentoring program for girls interested in pursuing careers in STEM. "Research suggests that for the tech jobs that are going to be available in the future, there isn't going to be enough talent to fill those positions unless women and girls became involved," she says.

In Massachusetts, a high-tech mecca, women held only around 26.5% of tech jobs in 2014, a slight drop from 2007, according to a new study from the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council. Workforce diversity in Silicon Valley isn't much better.

Monica Eaton-Cardone, founder and CIO of Global Risk Technologies, agrees. "To change this, women need to be encouraged to follow their interests and need to be educated on the growing potential of STEM careers," she says.

One way to achieve this change is to get girls involved in STEM fields from an early age, and a growing number of programs across the country aim to do just that.

Summer is just around the corner, and while offerings such as MIT's Women's Technology Program and Girls Who Code's summer immersion program are filled, a few programs are still accepting applications. Read more about them, below.

We will update this list in the fall with other programs worth looking into, so be sure to check back.

Alexa Café

About: Alexa Café offers girls instruction in coding, Web design and much more. Class sizes are small, never more than eight students to one teacher, and girls learn in a collaborative environment. With locations all over the country, Alexa Café offers both day camp and overnight camp options. Check out your preferred location to see if it fits your needs.

When: Various dates in June, July and August

Where: Various locations across the U.S., including California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington

Cost: Varies by location. Day camps range from $949 to $1,099 per week, plus an extra $60 per week if you want lunch provided. Overnight camps cost an additional $569 per week, and include all meals. Scholarships are typically offered, but this year’s have already been awarded.

Age range: 10 to 15

How to apply: Apply online -- click to expand the state you're interested in, and then click where you see the Alexa icon next to various locations. Or register by phone: (888) 709-8324.


App Camp for Girls

About: These one-week day camp programs were designed for girls to learn about the intricacies of app building, including business aspects. What started as a single program in Portland, Ore., in 2013 has expanded to five locations in the western U.S. and Canada.

When: July and August, varies by location.

Where: Portland, Ore.; Vancouver, B.C.; Seattle; Phoenix; and Orange County, Calif.

Cost: $400 per session

Age range: Entering grades 8 or 9 in the fall.

How to apply: Apply online


Black Girls Code various programs

About: Black Girls Code has two summer camps, one in Washington, D.C. and another in Chicago. The organization also has various programs throughout the year put on by individual chapters. Check their upcoming programs and events page to find workshops near you.

When: Washington camp: June 27 - July 12; Chicago camp: July 18 - 22

Where: Washington and Chicago

Cost: $300 and $150, respectively, but a limited number of scholarships are available

Age range: 10-14 for Washington, 12-plus for Chicago

How to apply: Washington, Chicago


Curious Jane and CJ Junior

About: Curious Jane caters to girls in grades 3-6; CJ Junior is for girls in grades 1 and 2. Girls get hands-on experience with science, design and engineering.

When: July and August

Where: Brooklyn and Manhattan

Cost: Brooklyn locations: $545 per week; Manhattan locations: $625 per week

Age range: Grades 1 through 6

How to apply: Apply online. Some programs are already full, so make sure your preferred location and program still has availability.


DigiGirlz High Tech Camp for Girls

About: Put on by Microsoft, DigiGirlz camps are free. There are eight locations in the U.S., and camps take place throughout the year. They are filled on a first-come, first-served basis, and some camps still have space for July and August. These are day camps only, so if you decide to apply for a camp outside of your local area, you'll have to make boarding arrangements yourself. DigiGirlz also has online courses for creating your own podcast and building websites. There are also DigiGirlz Days -- in cities where Microsoft has offices -- where high school girls talk with Microsoft employees to learn more about careers in technology.

When: Various times throughout the year.

Where: Various locations throughout the U.S.

Cost: Free

Age range: Must be at least 13 when you apply -- most camps are geared toward high school students.

How to apply: Apply online


Explore Engineering for High School Women

About: Upcoming high school juniors and seniors (and others if space allows) learn engineering from Sweet Briar faculty and engineering majors. Young women complete hands-on projects that will teach them engineering skills and earn them college credit.

When: July 24 to 29

Where: Sweet Briar College, Sweet Briar, Va.

Cost: $700; includes meals, lodging, tuition, supplies and field trips

Age range: Upcoming juniors and seniors in high school, although others will be considered if space allows.

How to apply: Apply online


Spectacles Math and Science Camp

About: Spectacles is a weeklong math and science camp for middle school girls. Campers are given the opportunity to learn in Wesleyan College’s science labs and computer facilities, and learn from Wesleyan faculty. Campers stay on campus but have field trips to meet with and learn about the careers of women in a variety of STEM areas.

When: July 10 to 16

Where: Wesleyan College campus in Macon, Ga.

Cost: $640; includes housing on campus, meals, classes and field trips

Age range: Entering grades 7, 8 and 9 in the fall

How to apply: Apply online by June 1

This story, "Tech camps for girls: Don't let your daughter miss out" was originally published by Computerworld.

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