Scripps Works to Close Computer Science Gender Gap with Girls Who Code Camp

This summer, Scripps College will host Girls Who Code, an all-female computer science summer program for middle and high school students.

As one of 10 campuses across the nation chosen to host the program, Scripps will work to close "the gender gap in tech, one girl at a time,” according to the program's website.

Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, spoke at Scripps' 87th commencement last spring. After witnessing the wide gender gap in computing classes at local schools during her unsuccessful campaign for New York's House of Representatives, she established Girls Who Code to bridge it.

“I believe deeply that supporting young girls to be courageous and to learn to program are two important traits needed to move us as a society forward,” Saujani told Scripps in a press release announcing she'd be the commencement speaker.

The summer program is funded by accounting firm Deloitte, and provides scholarships for middle and high school students to develop an interest in computer science and tech-related careers. According to the Girls Who Code website, the program helps participants “get an edge for college” and develop a welcoming community of girls with similar interests during a two-week intensive schedule.

Although Scripps does not have an established computer science department, many students from Scripps are pursuing a computer science major at one of the other 5Cs.

“I’m taking one [Harvey Mudd] computer science class right now, and all of my other computer science classes [were taken] at Pomona," computer science major Alice Zhang SC '19 said. "I think Scripps, as a community, really encourages women to go into STEM.”

But Zhang also thinks there's room for improvement.

“For one, we should have a Scripps faculty member who specializes in computer science … and knows the ins-and-outs of the Harvey Mudd and Pomona [computer science courses] to advise Scripps students interested in technology,” she said. "Another great way Scripps can support its CS students is by funding them to go to the Grace Hopper Conference, the biggest tech conference for women in tech in the nation. It's an expedition and a career fair in one, and Mudd and Pomona fund their own students to go every year already."

Pomona College's computer science department chair Yi-Ling Wu said institutions benefit from closing the gender gap.

“Diversity increases innovation, especially for inudstries that [are] mostly of one gender or of one ethnicity,” Wu said. “The gender gap issue is not new. You [haven’t] seen many females in leadership positions in tech-industries [over the past few decades]. With more news and publicity, the public is becoming more aware of the gender gap, and many institutions are fighting for gender inclusivity."