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Gender gap in programming focus of all-girls coding camps

Camp CodeLamar University is working hard to reduce the gap between men and women in computer programming/coding fields with the introduction of three coding camps this summer for 6th through 8th grade girls.

With a grant awarded from the Texas Workforce Commission, LU will host the three camps with intra-college collaboration between the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Computer Science and the College of Education and Human Development. The first camp, which began July 2 for 6th grade girls, will end Saturday, July 7 with a field excursion to the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Sujing Wang, assistant professor, Co-PI of the grant and a co-instructor for the camps said they have 50 girls this week, with a total of 150 girls attending all three camps.

Camp CodeOtilia Urbina, the executive director and Co-PI of the camps, said, “all three camps are addressing a national problem, the lack of women in the computer science and programming industry.” The National Girls Collaborative project reported that women receive only 17.9 percent of computer science degrees, and represent only 25 percent of the computer and mathematical sciences workforce.

Computer department Chair Stefan Andrei, who is the Principal Investigator of the grant, said the girls in each camp will be learning coding/programming, problem solving, and teamwork and technology application skills through the utilization of Scratch software. Wang says, "in Scratch (software) the girls basically learn how to use a simple block-like interface to program and game." Robotics will also be featured in the camps, as the 6th graders work with Lego Mindstorm robots, the 7th grade girls work with SeaPerch aquatic robots, and the 8th grade girls working with Raspberry Pi 3 to build their own computers.

Camp CodeIndustry professionals from Exxon Mobil and BASF will be volunteering and working with the girls throughout the camps this summer in collaboration with the LU departments.

The 7th grade TWC Camp Code for Girls will be July 16-21, and the 8th grade camp will be held July 30-August 4. For more information on the camps, contact Rebecca Broussard at (409) 880-7786 or email rlbroussard@lamar.edu.