App Camp for Girls is redefining the common image of a software developer. Step aside, guys. The new faces of software development are middle school girls. And the future will look a lot less typical.
Summer camp here is less crafts and s’mores, more design interfaces and Xcode. Instructed and mentored by successful female designers and developers, the campers learn the software business firsthand: brainstorming, designing, and building iPhone apps.
This nonprofit even goes one step further, teaching the girls how to market and pitch their apps to women investors.
I was in the awestruck audience when founder Jean MacDonald spoke to 3,000 people about App Camp For Girls at World Domination Summit 2013, a decidedly magical annual conference in Portland where creative, remarkable people unite to get inspired and develop the confidence to change the world.
The idea formed in Jean’s mind back at WDS 2012. A year later, she brought the camp to life thanks to a successful campaign on funding platform Indiegogo, raising more than twice her original $50,000 goal.
Jean’s story is so inspiring to me because she’s empowering girls by giving them priceless, hands-on experience and the tools to shape technology to their unique visions. This power can’t be underestimated.
Any stereotypes that girls aren’t as technically savvy as boys crumble before these girls’ awesome apps and education. Campers get the satisfaction of working through the process and seeing the finished product: their abilities and creations are their own, and no one can ever take that away from them.
And building your own iPhone app at age twelve? That’s a sweet self-esteem booster you can carry with you for a long time.
Today it’s easier than ever to go online and find DIY info for whatever skill you want to learn. But sometimes that knowledge isn’t enough. This past June, Jean attended the Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference and was disheartened to see that only 250 of the 5,000 attendees were women.
Role models, especially female role models, provide much-needed encouragement. With the help of successful women in their field, girls will know they are strong enough and smart enough to work through the challenges and see their visions through to the end.
The first full session of App Camp For Girls takes place in Portland this summer, from August 19-23. Jean eventually hopes to expand to more cities and age groups with the extra funds from the campaign.
I always ask myself: What would a world run by women look like? Beyoncé has some ideas, but we need a world influenced by the minds of all women. If you could create an app, what would it look like? What are some other ideas to get more girls and women into technology fields?
Allie Semperger studied English at Kalamazoo College and screenwriting at UCLA. After studying abroad in London and traveling around Europe, she became a travel lover for life, and is always making plans for her next adventure. She recommends Marina and the Diamonds. She created the feminist Tumblr blog, Women’s Issues Are Society’s Issues, and aspires to make the world a better place for women and girls.