First Bytes Camp Introduces Girls to Computer Science in Effort to Close the Gender Gap in Technology

June 21, 2010

AUSTIN, Texas — The First Bytes Summer Camp, sponsored by The University of Texas at Austin's Department of Computer Science, will (this week) introduce high school girls to the field of computer science.

During the free week-long camp on campus, select Texas high school girls will work together on computer projects, tour local technology companies, meet professional computer scientists, play games, enjoy campus life and get a taste of what it's like to have a job in research and technology.

This is the eighth time the Department of Computer Science has hosted the camp and is one of its efforts to close the gender gap in computer science.

Women represent about 60 percent of college graduates nationally, but their representation in computer science is only about 15 percent. It's believed that high school girls and undergraduates see computer science as too hard, geeky or solitary.

First Bytes strives to paint a more accurate picture of the profession by exposing the campers to the collaborative nature of computer science. Campers also learn that many corporations work hard to keep their skilled professionals happy at work and home through a variety of programs, and that computer science is about creating new technologies that can benefit society.

Camp activities include career mentoring, programming language labs, logic games, computer dissection and panel discussions. The finale event is an "Oscar party," where the students show movie shorts they created using the Alice programming language.

Expenses are paid by numerous sponsors, including Google, Lockheed Martin, Cisco Systems, Amazon.com, the Texas Film Commission and the Texas Workforce Commission. Google also funds the annual Department of Computer Science high school teacher's camp in July.

Watch a video about the program.

For more information, contact: Mary Esther Middleton, 512-471-9703; Tiffany Grady, 512-471-9523.