No Boys Allowed: Four Coding Schools Just For Girls

Programming has always been a bit of a boy’s club. Now four startups are turning the tables. 

As the coding education bubble swells, there’s room for some companies to target more specific audiences, including women exclusively. Fifty percent of the female population isn’t exactly a niche group, but it’s not a frequently targeted market in the technology industry, either. 

Even in the year 2013, we seem stuck on the stereotype of the typical “brogrammer.” Women and girls have always been some of technology’s most influential users (remember who fueled the rapid rise of Pinterest, anyone?) but they’re woefully underrepresented in professional tech jobs.

Directed at women and girls of varying ages, each school on the list has a secondary motive of expanding the coding population beyond the stereotypical “brogrammer.” Check them out:

Girl Develop It

Readwrite first covered this startup back in 2010 when it was called Girl Develop IT. (See what they did there?) Two years later, it’s still going strong. This woman-only school now has chapters in 16 cities in America, Canada and Australia. 

Founder Sara Chipps thinks the best way to shrink the tech job gender gap is to give women the resources to become “rockstar programmers” in a space where they feel comfortable. Girl Develop It classes are casual and low cost forays into coding. 

Black Girls Code 

Only one percent of technology startups are founded by African Americans, much less African American women. Founder Kimberly Bryant often finds herself to be the only black woman at tech events, and didn’t want the same life for her tech-savvy teenage daughter, Kai. So she founded a school where young black girls could learn to code surrounded by their peers. 

Black Girls Code targets girls of color aged seven to 17. Originally founded in San Francisco last July, this nonprofit now offers courses in seven American cities thanks to the help of several hundred volunteers. 

Girls Who Code 

Part of the gender gap in programming is a mental one. Reshma Saujani founded Girls Who Code not just to teach girls 13 to 17 how to code, but to convince them that it’s possible.

“At age 13 or 14 there is something that happens that makes girls think coding or engineering is not for them,” she told ReadWrite last year. “Part of our mission is pushing girls to go into these technical fields and overcome their aversion to risk.”

The startup is about to begin its second summer program, this year available in five cities. 

Girls Learning Code/Ladies Learning Code

Whether an aspiring female programmer is nine or 49, this Toronto-based nonprofit has a program for her. Ladies Learning Code invites women (and the occasional man) to collaborate on learning technical skills. All courses are currently at the introductory level in a variety of programming languages. 

The more recently launched Girls Learning Code program is, in its own words, “less about 'code' and more about changing the world.” Girls from nine to 13 are encouraged to explore programming as a means for exploring their creativity and get comfortable with computers.

Thanks to its wide age range, perhaps the nonprofit’s most unique program is a mother-daughter hack day. How’s that for a tech-forward Mother’s Day activity?

Photo courtesy of Girls Who Code