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March 26, 2014

How Computer Summer Camps Can Break Down Gender Barriers

computerDecreasing the Gender Gap in STEM Fields
Reshma Saujani is the founder of the nonprofit organization Girls Who Code, which is inspiring and educating girls in computing skills in order to close the gender disparity in the computer science field. According to Saujani, only 27% of America’s jobs in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) are held by women. As this sector of the American economy mushrooms, it is becoming increasingly important to get more students – and girls in particular – interested in math and science, whether through schools, or summer camps, or independent organizations like hers. In her December 2013 article in the New York Times, Saujani highlights a few ways in which this sector can generate stronger engagement from girls. Many of her points reflect the benefits of computer and technology summer camps across the country, which can be found at

Computer Summer Camps Engage Girls Through Personalized Context
Saujani writes, “Studies have shown that girls want to pick careers that enable them to engage with and change the world; and women learn science better when it is taught in their life context, not in a vacuum.” By integrating all of the fun elements of summer camp with the enriching education of computing skills, kids get the opportunity to explore how this path can relate to their own interests. The best computer summer camps offer hands-on experiential education that provide community and an enriching, unique environment for campers to learn and experiment. Specialized instruction combines specific skill development with project-based curricula to give campers context and an ultimate goal.

Creating Important Role Models for Girls and Boys
Saujani brings up another point about the importance of role models, especially as portrayed by the media. “[With] so few female coders in the ‘real world,’ girls just can’t picture themselves growing up to be a programmer, an engineer or a start-up entrepreneur.” This gap points to what is perhaps the most impactful aspect of computer summer camps, or any kind of summer camp for that matter: camp counselors and instructors fill a special niche of mentorship for kids and teens. As counselors, they fall somewhere in between an authority figure and a friend. As instructors, they serve as influential examples of success and leadership in a particular field. So counselors at computer summer camps can fill both of these roles to become powerful role models to break down stereotypes and relate to their campers on a personal level.

Help expand your daughter’s confidence and her personal vision by encouraging her interests in science and technology. You can explore the myriad opportunities for technology and computer summer camps at

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