A New Haven software engineering school is taking an innovative approach to addressing the declining number of women in computing jobs.
The Holberton School, a San Francisco-based institution that opened a campus last year at District New Haven, is hosting a summer coding camp for young women.
About two dozen teens enrolled in the free two-week camp, which was made possible through partnerships with Southern Connecticut State University, the City of New Haven, and Travelers.
Much like the curriculum at the Holberton School, the camp was open to aspiring programmers of all experience levels and challenged them to take their coding skills to the next level.
Holberton School New Haven director Nadine Krause says only 20%-25% of computing jobs are held by women, a number that has steadily declined since the 1980s.
"We see an urgent need to ignite and sustain a passion for STEM among young women throughout their educational and professional journeys," she said.
"The gender divide we see in tech jobs is staggering, especially when we consider that, on average, more women than men enter and complete higher education, but only 20% of women choose a major in engineering, and less than 15% are practicing engineers."
Campers got to experience the unique way Holberton students learn and collaborate.
Holberton focuses on breaking down barriers to accessing a software engineering career for people from all walks of life.
It begins with a blind application process designed to eliminate human bias in selecting applicants for admission, resulting in much greater student body diversity when compared to the current industry standard.
Campers learned fundamentals of web development and experienced what it's like to work in the field.
They also got to spend time at local tech companies.
"We don't have a lot of women engineers," said Keanna Jackson of Hamden.
"It can make me almost six figures so I'm good with that!"
Southern Connecticut State University's Colleen Bielitz called the partnership with Holberton "a positive step towards ensuring we have truly comprehensive technology solutions."
"If women aren't involved, we'll only be looking at and solving half of the equation," she said.
Holberton School New Haven trains software engineers through a revolutionary teaching method based on project based and peer learning.