The Young Women’s Leadership School (TYWLS) of Astoria and AT&T have teamed up to provide a three-week computer science program for the group of young women.
The program focuses on teaching female students in 8th through 12th grade to design, program and develop web and mobile apps, films and graphics for social change while exploring technology throughout New York City.
The goal of the program is to create a new generation of women in technology to bridge the current gender gap in those fields.
Over 15 days, the group visited and learned from 15 different companies including Apple, Wells Fargo, Microsoft, Buzzfeed and Goldman Sachs. The visits provided the group insight and tech lessons, such as personal experiences from workers, advice on graphic design, and feedback on the students’ projects.
The companies also provided the group with a female representative to speak with the girls and serve as a role model.
The end of the program brought six different mobile apps that address social problems.
The apps allow you and a friend anywhere in the world to watch a movie together, learn about local artists, get access to school records and keep track of different medications, and pick out an outfit based off of the users wardrobe.
The app ProFinder helps high school students find local jobs, internships, scholarships and volunteering opportunities.
“From personal experiences, we wished there was something that could make it easier for us to find jobs, internships or volunteer opportunities,” said Karina Palacios, one of the app’s creators. “A lot of opportunities are far away and we want to take them, but we can’t because it’s too far, so we created this app to help the issue.”
The TYWLS Tech Explorers program began in July 2015. This year, AT&T sponsored the program as part of its AT&T Aspire initiative.
“When choosing a program we look around at programs that really get results,” said AT&T’s Robin White. “This program not only teaches girls to code and other fundamentals of computer science, but it also takes the students to different companies around the city and exposes them to all kinds of tech jobs.”
What made AT&T choose TYWLS Tech Explorer program was it’s founder, Andrea Chaves, and her commitment and passion for the group of students, said White. In addition, the school itself has shown incredible commitment to helping the girls get into college.
Since its launch last summer, the Tech Explorers program has gained much notoriety, and Chaves was recognized as a “White House Champion of Change for Computer Science Education.”
Before the Tech Explorers program, students applied and went to coding camps all over the area, but Chaves found that many who applied were left behind without an acceptance. Because of this, she decided to start a program herself in the school.
“The students get to see that it is possible,” said Chaves. “If you have the time and creativity, you can put it together. You just need a little bit of hard work and time. It’s also a very good program for these girls to get experience in collaboration and to work together and see the importance of that.”