Girls Who Code extends program to Quinnipiac

Jennie Torres

[media-credit id=2200 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]Closing the gender gap in technology is the everlasting mission for the Girls Who Code.

The club began its program six years ago in the New York City, but now stands strong across the nation and most recently-—within the university.

This week, on Feb. 13, Girls Who Code completed its first meeting on campus and will continue its program for the remaining Spring semester. The club is a free after-school program for girls in grade levels six to 12 who want to learn about computer science and be a part of a sisterhood of their peers.

The meetings will occur every Tuesday between 4 p.m to 6 p.m until May 1 in the Center for Communications & Engineering on the Mount Carmel Campus.

The meetings will be run by senior Computer Information Systems (CIS) major Qaisha Closeil who said she was inspired to bring the club on campus by lawyer, politician, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code Reshma Saujani after hearing about Saujani visiting the university back in Fall 2016.

“I couldn’t go [to the event] because I had class at the time, but my professors in the class talked about things that [Saujani] covered and what motivated her to start the club,” Closeil said. “So then I decided, this would be a great idea to have, a club like this at QU.”

Saujani intends on building a future for the next generation to prosper through creativity, bravery and teamwork with this club, according to the official Girls who Code website.

“The demographic of Girls Who Code is the demographic of our nation,” Saujani said in a statement. “From clubs in rural Oklahoma, to homeless shelters in Massachusetts, to the country’s most prestigious private schools—girls everywhere are united by their passion to use technology to solve problems in their day-to-day lives and make a positive impact on the world.”

Closeil took time to speak to multiple schools and see if any students there would be interested in being in the club.

“I pretty much went out to the middle schools, because the club is for middle school and high school girls,” Closeil said. “So I contacted vice principals [and] principals around Hamden.”

Even though the program is meant to help girls between grade levels six to 12, any student at the university who wishes to join can do so by becoming a facilitator. This means they can participate in helping the girls learn computer science principles.

Aside from learning computer science principles, Closeil also intends for the girls to create a personal project with them creating their own video game, app or website and eventually they will present their work on the last day of the program. There will be several people working alongside Closeil to help the girls achieve their projects, including Assistant Professor of Software Engineering Ruby ElKharboutly.

“Our student club facilitators will teach girls basic computer science concepts and at the end of the club sessions, the girls will work in a team to design and build a project that solves real world problems they care about through code,” ElKharboutly said.

Closeil said that she hopes for the girls to have a graduation on the last day of the program that will allow them to showcase what they’ve been doing throughout the program.

“An expectation is for them to present their projects that they’ve been working on to their parents and also some professors here, just so they can have practice presenting in front of a crowd,” Closeil said.

Overall, Closeil said she is excited for the program because she knows first-hand how there is a huge gender gap when it comes to computer science fields and she hopes to inspire the girls to further learn about the field and even be inspired to one day attend the university.

“I like how we have [the club] on QU’s campus. They’ll get the best of both – learning about computer science and being kind of a college student,” Closeil said. “Maybe they’ll have an interest in coming here.”