Square noticed a critical gender gap in the field of computer sciences, and is doing its part to help fill it with Code Camp, which encourages girls in high school and college to pursue careers in tech. The latest college camp, which accepts students from both Canada and the U.S., begins next January, and applications officially opened today.
You may be familiar with Square as an innovative point-of-sale payment company that makes it easy for anyone to accept credit card payments using an iPad or iPhone and a tiny reader or iPad stand. But the company’s roots go deep into coding – it was co-founded by Jack Dorsey, one of the co-founders of Twitter.
In doing its research, Square found some compelling numbers that spoke of the need to encourage more females to work in the high-tech field. Only 12% of computing jobs in the U.S. are held by women, and just 18% of computer science graduates are female. That number is actually down from 1984, when it was 37%!
There are two parts to Code Camp: an 8-month program for local high schoolers in the San Francisco area, and a four-day immersion program for college and university students that takes place twice each year, in January and August. The latter is open to full-time students, aged 18 and older, in both the U.S. and Canada who are pursuing a degree in computer science, computer engineering, or a related technical major. Twenty lucky students are chosen to take part, and Square pays for both airfare and accommodations for the duration of the program.
College Code Camp brings the students together with Square engineers to work on improving their coding skill and gain career advice. There’s also the opportunity to learn from some of the top women engineers in Canada and the U.S.
The goal is that the program will help improve the ratio of women who actually go on to pursue tech positions after getting a related degree. Only 30% of U.S. small businesses, notes Square, are owned by women. And even fewer of them are in the technology sector.
What made Square interested in this, aside from a deep-seated love for coding in general, is that the company realized half of its own small business customers are women. There’s a clear synergy between the brand and the female persuasion.
And clearly the camp is working. Square’s Vanessa Slavich tells WhatsYourTech.ca that the number of received applications grew 250% between 2013 and 2014. This October’s Camp will be the fourth to take place thus far.
Overall in the U.S., there are more than 9.1 million businesses currently owned by women. Imagine how much higher that number could rise, and the kind f impact women could have, if more of those were in the technology field. Square’s Code Camp is just one more program of many that will help persuade the younger generation to move in that opportunity-filled direction.
Female college and university students interested in pursuing the Code Camp can apply for the next program starting today, and through to November 7, 2014. Winners will be notified on or by December 1, and the camp takes place January 6-10, 2015. You can find more information at https://squareup.com/code-camp/college.