USF Hosts Computer Science Camp for Girls

SAN FRANCISCO (August 12, 2013) - Dedicated to making computer science fun and accessible young women, especially would-be first-generation college students, the University of San Francisco (USF) is proud to host the 2013 Summer Enrichment Program, a computer science camp for Bay Area school-aged girls. From August 12-16, young women from public schools across the bay will converge at USF for this five-day camp run by the university's Computer Science Department.

Now in its ninth year, the program is designed to introduce young women to the opportunities available to them in the field of computer science. The schedule of events will emphasize hands-on activities such as working on an Android app, developing a clothing program that matches style and colors, Python programming, and taking apart computers. Participating students will hear from Teresa Win, a USF alumnus and prominent woman in the field of computer science, Nancy Montanez, a systems software engineer at Yahoo!, and Sara Haider, the technical lead on Vine for Android. Part of the camp also includes field trips to Twitter and Mozilla. To show the real working environments of successful IT companies, students will tour Twitter and Mozilla to learn about the cool projects each company is tackling, and have lunch with female engineers.

"Computer Science is not just for a particular gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic group, but for anyone," said Eunjin "EJ" Jung, assistant professor of computer science at USF. "We are committed to providing these girls with an enjoyable and interactive week of hands-on activities that will hopefully spark their interest in technology. This week's participants will connect with the fascinating world of computer science and maybe even surprise themselves with what they create and invent."

Lack of funds and access to these types of enrichment programs tend to be the main challenges preventing young girls from getting involved. Not wanting money to be the roadblock, Professor Jung applied for and received a Jesuit Foundation grant that will cover the cost for anyone unable to afford the application fee. She also partnered with Magic Zone (http://momagic.org/, part of Collective Impact) and NexGeneGirls (http://nexgenegirls.org/) to recruit participants and ensure an ethnically diverse group. "While other universities may offer camps, we made sure the USF Summer Enrichment Program is affordable to participants so that financial hardships wouldn't hold anyone back," said Jung.

Also new this year, USF organizers invited the non-profit partners to send their staff members to get trained on the material covered during the week, so that they can continue to support the young women after camp. "I believe trained staff on-site will encourage girls to sustain their interests and explore further."

According to the National Science Foundation's 2013 Digest report, more women than men graduate from college with a bachelor's degree; however, men earn a higher proportion of degrees in many science and engineering fields of study. Women's level of participation in these fields varies, but within fields it is consistent over every level of degree. Women's participation in engineering and computer sciences remains below 30 percent. In the 20 years since 1991, the proportion of women in engineering has increased, mostly at the master's and doctoral levels, but has declined at the bachelor's level.

About the University of San Francisco

The University of San Francisco is located in the heart of one of the world's most innovative and diverse cities and is home to a vibrant academic community of students and faculty who achieve excellence in their fields. Its diverse student body enjoys direct access to faculty, small classes, and outstanding opportunities in the city itself. USF is San Francisco's first university, and its Jesuit Catholic mission helps ignite a student's passion for social justice and a desire to "Change the World from Here." For more information, please visit www.usfca.edu. 

To learn about USF's Summer Enrichment Computer Campus, please contact Anne-Marie Devine, USF's senior director of media relations, at (415) 422-2697 or abdevine@usfca.edu.