My name is Madelyn, I’m 24 years old, and I’m a professional software developer at Protiviti. I spend most of my days writing code to create new features for and fix bugs on clients’ web and mobile applications.
I began programming during my second semester of college as part of an introductory engineering class. Until that point, no one in my life had suggested that I try computer science. I had proudly branded myself as “not a computer person,” but rather someone comfortable in math and art. In that class I found, much to my surprise, that programming was nothing like what I had thought it would be – it was achievable, logical and required a tremendous amount of creativity.
After graduating college and spending a year developing programming skills and growing increasingly amazed by the potential of computers, I decided to take on an active role in the computer science education movement. Children deserve to learn about the world around them, including the guts of technology that run so much of our world – regardless of what career they end up pursuing. The powerful, growing technology field should not be limited to a select group of privileged college students who happen to stumble into a programming class in college.
Over the past few years, I’ve worked with several different nonprofits in the computer science education sphere, each bringing a slightly different approach to the enormous, complex problem of diversity. Since graduation, I’ve narrowed the focus of my tech diversity efforts specifically to the gender gap. I am proud to have served as a computer science instructor, local club facilitator and curriculum consultant, and am always on the lookout for other opportunities for impact. This year, Protiviti presented such an opportunity – and a very exciting one. In 2019, Protiviti became an official corporate sponsor of Girls Who Code (GWC), an international nonprofit organization aiming to eliminate the gender gap in technology.
Girls Who Code’s mission is ambitious, yet simple: offer learning opportunities to students to deepen their computer science skills as well as their confidence. Through an assortment of GWC education programs, including local after-school clubs and full 7-week Summer Immersion Programs for high school students, girls throughout the country are getting hooked on computer science. The new College Loops program supports program alumni as they transition from high school to college, and from college into the workforce. The idea is that introducing girls to computer science and instilling confidence at a young age will counteract the currently declining number of women in computing.
And it’s working. In the six years since its founding, Girls Who Code programs have reached 185,000 students of all backgrounds in all 50 states. Program alumnae are choosing to major in computer science, or related fields, at 15 times the national average. At this rate, we are on track to reach gender parity in entry-level computer science jobs by 2027.
Protiviti is proud to help Girls Who Code continue their great work in computer science education. In 2019, Protiviti is contributing to Girls Who Code’s Summer Stipend Fund, allowing five students the opportunity to attend a Summer Immersion Program who, for financial reasons, would otherwise not be able to attend. Such Summer Immersion Programs are held each summer in thirteen large cities throughout the United States, including Chicago, New York City, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Seattle. Classrooms of 20 high school students “learn about computer science, gain exposure to tech jobs, and join a sisterhood of girls who are in computer science to become change-makers.”
Internally, Protiviti’s 2019 sponsorship of Girls Who Code is an exciting opportunity to join forces around a powerful cause. Protiviti has offices in several major cities throughout the United States, including ten of the thirteen cities in which GWC currently offers Summer Immersion Programs. Each office has unique capabilities to contribute to its local Girls Who Code community. The Chicago office, one of Protiviti’s largest markets, has an active internal committee dedicated to promoting gender parity in computer science education. The Chicago office is planning a field trip for local Summer Immersion Program students in July of 2019. Students will tour the Protiviti “iNN” (our Chicago innovation hub), attend talks and demos by technical leaders, and participate in an interactive consulting simulation.
Protiviti’s sponsorship of Girls Who Code provides an excellent opportunity to celebrate the most technical areas of the firm. A renewed focus on implementation and developing technical skills within the firm aligns very well with GWC’s highly-technical computer science education programs. Tech jobs are among the fastest growing in the country, and Girls Who Code is working to ensure that girls are given equal access to them – a goal that perfectly complements Protiviti’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Girls Who Code has built the largest pipeline of future female engineers in the United States. Program alumni are exceptional; in just the six years since its founding, Girls Who Code alumni have gone on to win collegiate hackathons, write books, study at prestigious universities and testify before state senate education committees advocating for computer science education. Access to this pipeline of highly-qualified technical candidates is hugely beneficial to technology companies, especially given the ever-increasing demand for technical talent. Current GWC students – Protiviti’s future clients, consultants, and industry leaders – are just now gaining their first insights into the world of technology. Protiviti is proud to support the technical education of so many future professionals, while seeding brand awareness in the process.
I’m honored to be leading the Girls Who Code initiative at Protiviti. I look forward to making the most out of this partnership, watching our impact progress through the pipeline, and creating computer science education opportunities for our future leaders.