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Insights  |  October 20, 2022

Bravery, Sisterhood, and Activism: A look inside K1’s Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program

During the first two weeks of August, 2022, K1 partnered with Girls Who Code to host our second annual Summer Immersion Program. This virtual initiative gave 70 young female and non-binary students the opportunity to learn computer science and prepare for careers in tech, with the ultimate goal of closing the gender gap in the industry. Half of the students came from historically underrepresented groups in the tech industry, including girls who are Black, Latinx, or from low-income backgrounds. 

Over the course of twelve days, students entering 10th, 11th, and 12th grade got the chance to engage with trained instructors from Girls Who Code, female leaders in technical roles at some of K1’s portfolio companies, and try their hands at HTML, CSS, and JavaScript – at no cost. 

The gender gap in computer science is worsening. In 1995, 37% of computer scientists were women; today that’s dropped all the way down to 24%. The biggest dropoff of girls in computer science is between the ages of 13 and 17, and we’ll continue to see a decline unless organizations like Girls Who Code take matters into their own hands. 

That’s why we partnered with Girls Who Code to give students the opportunity to hear from prominent leaders at our portfolio companies: Director of Engineering at Emburse Sam Johnsen taught them best practices for identifying, reproducing, and fixing software bugs; and Senior Manager of Web Development at Jobvite Mai Nakamura opened up about her career path and described the different types of web development trajectories that are available. The students also got to check out live examples of sites Mai’s team at Jobvite has designed and developed. 

But perhaps the most exciting part of the program was the Final Project Showcase. K1 invited 30 women across 14 of our portcos to attend and provide live feedback and encouraging comments to conclude this year’s program. The goal was to create a talent pipeline for Girls Who Code Alumni, as our portcos are uniquely positioned to play a large part in closing the gender gap. Hiring and retaining strong technical talent will continue to be a pain point for companies moving forward, so sourcing qualified talent from the GWC network is a boon both to our portcos and to the larger cause of diversifying the tech talent pool. 

Following the Final Project Showcase, we had members at multiple portcos commit to hiring from GWC’s alumni network. Many also agreed to submit entry level technical roles to the monthly Girls Who Code Jobs Blast, which is sent to over 90,000 college-aged and older alumni of the Summer Immersion Program who go on to study computer science at universities around the globe. 

There’s a significant overlap between Girls Who Code and K1’s respective missions. We believe that diverse abilities, cultures, identities, and opinions make us stronger. We are committed to excellence and preparing leaders – whether they’re young students or future K1 portfolio companies – to improve and transform the workforce. And we aspire to be trailblazers in leveling the playing field of the tech industry. 

At the end of the program, many attendees from our portcos reached out to express interest in participating again next year! Given the enthusiasm we saw from participants and portcos alike, we are looking forward to continuing our partnership with Girls Who Code to further our commitment to changing the industry for the better.