The program is designed to empower girls to participate in computer science and technology activities.
“Girls want to make the world a better place. If they learn about technology, they can make it a better place,” says Rachel Ramsay, director of Girls Go Digital!
Girls Go Digital! provides opportunities for girls to learn more about computers, programming, technology and design. The program includes events, workshops and camps with projects created by girls for girls.
Ramsay created the Girls Go Digital! program while pursuing her MFA at Dixie State University. While preparing her thesis, she studied the gender gap in computer science. “We have a problem in western culture,” Ramsay says. “We push boys to do hard things, but accommodate to the skills girls already have.” Ramsay explains that there’s a cultural perception that boys are better with mechanical work, when in reality girls are just as capable. Ramsay decided she wanted to create a learning environment that could begin addressing that problem.
“The program is designed to empower girls to participate in computer science and technology activities,” Ramsay says. The program has grown from 6 participants in 2013 to 143 girls this summer. “I think people are hungry for tech education for their children,” Ramsay says, then explains how excited many parents have been to see how engaged their daughters are in the program. One father was pleasantly surprised to discover that his daughter, after attending camp, had set up a text base on her personal computer on which she could complete programming projects.
“This is really about the individual girl,” Ramsay says, explaining that if 500 girls attend a Girls Go Digital! camp this summer and at least one leaves thinking she is capable of a STEM career, that’s all that matters. To help girls understand just how capable they really are, Ramsay has recruited female instructors whose occupations range from finance to education. “We’re showing [these girls] that there are smart, strong, and capable women who can mentor them,” Ramsay says.
Ramsay credits much of the program’s success to Dixie, saying that without their support and generosity Girls Go Digital! would not be where it is today. To continue growing, however, the program needs support from the tech community and beyond. Some companies and groups — such as Instructure — are sponsoring girls by covering their camp fees and Ramsay is looking for more sponsors to do the same.
“Any time you have a chance, support women in tech,” Ramsay implores, and urges all of us to support the institutions that are supporting the Girls Go Digital! Program.