Albemarle Program Aims to Increase Women's Interest in Technology
At Albemarle High School, young women are writing computer code and designing their own websites. It's part of a workshop to jump-start interest in science, math and technology.
Last year there were 200 workshop participants and this year that number has quadrupled to 800. It's all about making technology fun particularly for girls.
"I really like how you can practically create anything. You can think of something and then you can create it," said Addison Carroll, a rising sixth-grader.
"CoderDojo Academy" is a summer workshop offered by Albemarle County Public Schools to inspire more students to go into computer engineering, science and math.
"Technology is in everything we use and so if you want to make a difference in the world technology is a way to do that," said volunteer Kim Wilkens, a computer engineer and founder of Tech-Girls.
Tech jobs are increasing but Americans are expected to fill less than 30 percent by 2022 - and the current numbers are even bleaker for women.
In 1984 over 30 percent of computer science degrees went to women. Today, that number is 12 percent. Wilkens wants to change all of that.
Wilkens is a volunteer at the summer academy who wrote code at IBM for years.
"There were quite a few elementary girls and then as girls got older they started dropping out," said Wilkens.
She is now guiding students through video game control creation, robotics and electronic circuitry.
"It's about giving kids experience with technology they might not otherwise have," said Wilkens.
Albemarle schools hope that the experiences will turn into life-long careers. The program has become so popular Albemarle County Public Schools plan to continue it into the school year.