'Girls Who Code' program prepares girls for STEM careers, aims to change gender disparity in field

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- For several young and ambitious young ladies, Thursday was a night for celebration after sharing seven weeks together as part of a "Girls Who Code" summer immersion program.

The girls learned computer science, robotics and storytelling as part of the program.

"The main thing I wanted to stress to them is how to connect all of them, which is using technology to solve issues," teacher Soobin Yang said.

It's hosted in cities across the country at major tech companies - the one in L.A. was sponsored by AT&T.

"We schedule mentorship programs, where some of our colleagues come down and speak to them one-on-one. They give them the additional experience as far as what to look for and how to go ahead and keep them moving forward on their path to hopefully achieving a STEM-related career," said Noel Pallais, area manager of external affairs at AT&T.

For the girls, seeing someone who looks like them made a lasting impression.

"The most influential part was when speakers came in who are actual women who are in that field. They speak about their experience and how they're actually making a change in the world and how their voices are being heard," Alison Lopez said.

The organization said the gender gap in computing is growing, with women representing fewer than one in five computer science graduates. The group is determined to eliminate that disparity by training girls like Domonique to build a website and girls like Alison, who built a robotic guide dog.

The program is free and offers need-based scholarships. Its impact is clear.

"One day, hopefully, young girls look up to me and say, 'She did it. So I can do it, too,'" Domonique Steward said.
Copyright © 2021 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.