125 Stanford Stories

NO. 109

Girls teaching girls to code

Stanford student program for high schoolers reaches across the computer-science gender gap

Girls Teaching Girls to Code is a program in which Stanford women teach and inspire Bay Area high school girls to explore computer science and engineering. Students learn coding basics, build websites and sensors, and develop strong relationships with mentors in the field.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, only 14.5 percent of the U.S. engineering workforce is female.

“They don’t think they’ll be good at it. They don’t think computer science is interesting,” explains Girls Teaching Girls to Code co-founder Heidi Wang, MS ’14. She recalls being a summer intern at a tech startup and being “the only female technical person” on staff.

At Stanford, computer science is one of the most popular majors for women. Wang says she and her co-founders want to convey that “coding is useful and fun, and that there are awesome women who can mentor them.”

The group launched in 2012 after its founders won a contest enabling them to put on a Code Camp for high school girls.

Stanford student mentors at Girls Teaching Girls To Code's summer Code Camp in 2015.
Stanford student mentors at Girls Teaching Girls To Code’s summer Code Camp in 2015.

Every summer, 45 Stanford mentors introduce 200 girls to the fun and creativity of computer science. Puzzles and games teach beginners the basic concepts. Special-interest workshops include cryptography, app development, music and technology, web design and computational biology.

The day closes with a panel of female founders, engineers and designers who share their stories of creativity, earning power and impact. They encourage the girls to blaze their own trails.

Throughout the year, Girls Teaching Girls to Code offers smaller workshops as well as field trips to tech companies. Girls learn how the products that programmers help make not only create economic value but also address social issues such as disaster relief.

Find out how to participate in Girls Teaching Girls to Code.

Check out more science programs for high school students, most of them free to participants, through Stanford’s Office of Science Outreach.