'Disrupting' Tech's Diversity Problem With A Code Camp For Girls Of Color : NPR Ed The group Black Girls CODE holds summer boot camps that teach basics of app design and development. The nonprofit aims to inspire more girls to reach for a career in high-tech.
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'Disrupting' Tech's Diversity Problem With A Code Camp For Girls Of Color

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'Disrupting' Tech's Diversity Problem With A Code Camp For Girls Of Color

'Disrupting' Tech's Diversity Problem With A Code Camp For Girls Of Color

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Silicon Valley is great at disrupting business norms, except when it comes to its own racial and gender diversity problem. Fewer than 13 percent of computer engineers in the valley are women and far fewer are African-American women. Tech companies say they're working to change that, but one nonprofit group based in the Bay Area isn't waiting around. The group, Black Girls CODE, has been running new camps this summer for girls to learn the basics of coding, prototyping and app development. NPR's Eric Westervelt paid a visit to one of the camps and captured some of the voices there.

SOPHIA NECIOSUP: My name's Sophia Neciosup. I'm 13, and I joined this camp just to try something new.

KISHA MICHELLE RICHARDSON: They'll be paper prototyping, and then I'm hoping to get them to actually build the screens in App Inventor too.

SOPHIA: The message is the title that says that it's an LGBT Hope Network. The focus is the big picture that has the messaging and Snapchat of the chats and the action is join, the join button.

RICHARDSON: Fantastic.

(APPLAUSE)

SOPHIA: I've liked it so far, so I feel nobody else I know does this kind of thing. And I feel cool being a girl and of color doing this kind of thing that I don't really see often, not even in movies. So I think it's really cool.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The whole point of this is to build an app fast and see if it's something that people want. So today we're...

RICHARDSON: UX is a feeling. It's the feeling that you want people to feel when they visit your app.

My name is Kisha Michelle Richardson. I'm a senior software engineer at Westfield Labs. Organizations like this help bring more people into the pipeline just as much as a diversity board at a large corporation.

There should be some form of action because it's interactive. It's an app. If they can't go anywhere then I don't know what it is. It's not really an app.

There was nothing like Black Girls CODE in Brooklyn. I grew up in Bed-Stuy in Crown Heights. In fact, there were no science-oriented projects. The biggest takeaway that I'd love them to get is a love for building something with technology, a love for tinkering, a love for maybe one day thinking about pursuing a career in this burgeoning industry.

LAKE RAYMOND: I'm Lake Raymond, and I'm the program coordinator for summer programs, camps and afterschool programs. We actually took a field trip to Google yesterday, and I like to sort of point out to the girls, like, look around. Do you see people who look like you here? And they seemed a little shocked to actually, you know, be in a place where you don't really see anyone who looks like you is a culture shock.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: So you all are businesswomen. So I want you guys to work on your pitches and sell me on your idea. So you need to think of...

NATALIA: My name's Natalia. I'm 13 years old. I want to make games 'cause right now technology - I think it's going to take over the world. Yeah. I want to be a part of that, yeah.

SIEGEL: Voices from a Black Girls CODE summer camp in San Francisco collected by Eric Westervelt of the NPR Ed team.

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