- Associated Press - Monday, November 23, 2015

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) - Florida State University Panama City is now teaching a “Girls Who Code” program, which focuses on teaching computer coding to female students in grades six to 12.

This is the university’s first year to offer the program, which aims to close the gender gap in technology by inspiring girls to pursue computer science, The Panama City News Herald reported (https://bit.ly/1SeiBSu).

“The main aim is to recruit girls into computer science where they’re terribly underrepresented,” FSU PC Science, Technology, Engineering and Math director John Smith said.

Smith said that of 40 girls who replied to recruitment, 26 are regular attendees. The classes are taught by computer science seniors. The girls get assignments and are helped by the student instructors.

One of the student instructors, Emily Hennessy, said that female presence in coding is important because the field should have wider diversity.

“It’s really creative,” Hennessy said. “You can do a lot with it.” The young girls “like to come here because they get a lot out of it. They can use it.”

Smith said the class has also had female computer programmers from Naval Support Activity Panama City visit and talk with the students.

Smith said the program, which is free of charge for students, is expected to run through the academic year.

“Computer related sciences are just infiltrating everywhere we go,” Smith said, mentioning computer apps, phone apps and robotics. “Behind that are the people who code.”

According to the Girls Who Code website, in 1984, 37 percent of all computer science graduates were women. Today, that number is 18 percent.

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Information from: The (Panama City, Fla.) News Herald, https://www.newsherald.com


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