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'Girls Who Code' comes to Coos Bay to inspire young women to join tech sector

(Image courtesy Girls Who Code)

COOS BAY, Ore. -- A national nonprofit agency working to get more young women in the technology sector is coming to Coos Bay.

The mission of Girls Who Code is to educate, inspire, and equip young women with the skills to pursue careers in computing fields.

Next month, the organization will bring that mission to Coos Bay.

"On January 17, we are launching the first Girls Who Code afterschool club,” says SOWIB executive director Jake McClelland, who adds, “it's designed for girls between the ages of 6th and 12th grades. It's a program that's aimed at closing the gender gap in the tech industry.”

The program is free. It includes two-hour meetings once a week until June.

“There's a facilitator that will help them lead, lead them through the lesson,” MeClelland says, “and the first part is kind of talking a little bit about empowerment and things like sisterhood, things of that nature, and then the second part of the curriculum is learning the basics of coding."

Tech jobs are among the fastest growing in the country, but young women are being left behind.

By 2020 the group says there will be 1.4 million jobs available in computing-related fields. US college graduates are on track to fill 29 percent of those jobs, but women just a mere 3 percent.

"Our goal is to have as many girls as we can here in Coos Bay, of course,” McClelland says, “but then we'd like to expand into other parts of our area; we'd like to expand it so that all youths have the opportunity to learn these skills.”

More than half of club participants nationwide say they are considering a major or minor in computer science because of Girls Who Code.

“Even if you don't go into coding, they're learning skills that can easily translate into a number of different jobs."

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