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'Girls Who Code' Graduates Its First Class

The New York City-based nonprofit is closing the computer science gender gap.

In his crowd-rocking speech at the Democratic National Convention, President Bill Clinton noted that "the old economy is not coming back. We've got to build a new one and educate people for those new jobs." Girls Who Code, the New York City-based nonprofit that launched last spring with the goal of ensuring teen girls from low-income backgrounds are ready for the tech economy is certainly part of that educational process and they're closing the computer science gender gap to boot. They just graduated their inaugural coding and tech bootcamp class of 20 girls between the ages of 13- to 17-years-old.

In July the eager group, most of whom had no real tech experience, plunged into the 8-week long bootcamp with classes taught by some of the tech industry's rock star female developers and entrepreneurs. Along with gaining valuable mentor relationships, the girls learned the nuts and bolts of programming languages like Python and JavaScript, web design, mobile app development, and robotics. They also completed culminating projects that showcased their new skills and presented them at Google's Meatpacking District office.

Students Masuma Ali and Khady Samb paid their new skills forward by creating Learn CS Programming, a site for sharing computer science and programming resources. "This program was a big opportunity for me because I’ve always been interested in computers and how they work," Ali told Women 2.0, noting that she "especially liked that it was a place where we could share our ideas." Other final projects took on some of the world's toughest problems.

Ashley Erenburg and Maria Gonzalaz tackled homelessness with "Say Something, an Android app that helps concerned New Yorkers find shelters and soup kitchens for homeless people." Say Something "also connects users with Volunteer Match" so they can find out how to lend a hand.

If the girls keep their coding skills up, they'll surely have no problem getting hired for one of the 1.4 million computer science-related jobs expected for the economy by 2018. What's great news is that Girls Who Code has plans in the works to give more young women across the country a shot at those jobs too. Founder Reshmah Saujani and executive director Kristin Titus says the organization will expand to seven cities in 2013.

Photo via Girls Who Code

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