Black Girls CODE is devoted to showing the world that black girls can code, and do so much more. By reaching out to the community through workshops and after school programs, Black Girls CODE introduces computer coding lessons to young girls from underrepresented communities in programming languages such as Scratch or Ruby on Rails. Black Girls CODE has set out to prove to the world that girls of every color have the skills to become the programmers of tomorrow. By promoting classes and programs we hope to grow the number of women of color working in technology and give underprivileged girls a chance to become the masters of their technological worlds. Black Girls CODE’s ultimate goal is to provide African-American youth with the skills to occupy some of the 1.4 million computing job openings expected to be available in the U.S. by 2020, and to train 1 million girls by 2040.
Since our launch in April 2011, Black Girls CODE has had the honor of bringing technology and entertainment to many wonderful girls of color. By teaching the girls programming and game design, we hope to have started the lifelong process of developing in them a true love for technology and the self-confidence that comes from understanding the greatest tools of the 21st century.
And though we at Black Girls CODE cannot overstate our happiness with the results of our classes, this is just the first step in seeking to bridge the digital divide. The digital divide, or the gap between those with regular, effective access to digital technology and those without, is becoming an increasingly critical problem in society. As more and more information becomes electronic, the inability to get online can leave entire communities at an extremely dangerous disadvantage.
Sadly, San Francisco’s digital divide falls along the same racial and social fault lines that characterize so many of society’s issues. White households are twice as likely to have home Internet access as African American houses. Bayview Hunters Point, Crocker Amazon, Chinatown, Visitacion Valley, and the Tenderloin have significantly lower rates of home technology use than the rest of the city. Sixty-six percent of Latinos report having a home computer, as opposed to 88 percent of Caucasians.
Through community outreach programs such as workshops and after school programs, we introduce underprivileged girls to basic programming skills in languages like Scratch and Ruby on Rails. Introducing girls of color to these skills gives them an introduction to today’s computer technology, an essential tool for surviving in the 21st century. The skills they acquire through the programs give these young women a chance at well-paying professions with prestigious companies, as well as the ability to enter into the field as an entrepreneurs and leaders of technology.
“Imagine. Build. Create.” has always been our motto at Black Girls CODE. The digital divide is steadily eroding, but if we want to create truly universal access to technology, San Francisco needs to come together as a community. Imagine a world where everyone is given the tools to succeed, and then help us build ways for everyone to access information and create a new age of women of color in technology.
As of 2013, Black Girls CODE has 7 established institutions, and has operated in 7 states in the U.S. as well as Johannesburg, South Africa. We’ve reached over 3,000 students, and we plan to expand to 8 more cities in the United States.