WRTC Student and Faculty Start Harrisonburg's First "Girls Who Code" Event

Trinity Garcia, Lawra Ashkeba and Emily Quinonez explore coding with WRTC professor, Jen Almjeld

If WRTC major Catie Willett has her way, the future will be more welcoming to women in computer science. Catie has established a "Girls Who Code" chapter in Harrisonburg and created opportunities for 9-12 year-olds in an after-school program at the Lucy Simms Center in Harrisonburg. 

Girls Who Code, a non-profit organization founded five years ago in New York by Reshma Saujani, is dedicated to "closing the gender gap in technology." Catie explains that there are two different ways to be involved: "One is to hold a summer program that is about a week long for students, and the other is to host an after-school club."

Girls Who Code logo

Catie is committed to helping the Girls Who Code organization to reverse the trend that has seen women in computing dwindle from one in three in the Eighties to fewer than one in five today.

According to Catie, Dr. Jen Almjeld's WRTC 486 "Writing in the Community" course in Spring 2017 inspired her take on the project. Dr. Jen Almjeld says, "I was so thrilled to see a research project from a WRTC course evolve into a community engagement project in our community that has so much potential to positively impact girls. Catie's passion to inspire and equip young women to work in computing fields dominated by men is the best sort of scholarship in action."

"When I found that Harrisonburg did not have a Girls Who Code club," says Catie, "I decided to establish one and now I have WRTC faculty Jen Almjeld and Paige Normand as the faculty advisers that assist me in executing this organization." Should the test trial of "Girls Who Code" go well, those involved in the club hope that the project will expand in the future. 

Girls Who Code posters

The first club meeting was held January 23 and four girls participated. The program is still in its testing phase, so the club is meant to be an intimate environment to learn how to best teach the material. The program is free and provides computers and internet access to the girls who participate. Check this website for future events: 

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Published: Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Last Updated: Monday, October 3, 2022

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