Akamai employees in Cambridge have started to see some new faces around the office for the summer - 20+ high school juniors to be specific!
For the fourth consecutive year, Akamai is partnering with Girls Who Code to host a seven-week long summer immersion program dedicated to closing the gender gap in tech. The girls will learn the basics of programming, robotics, data analysis and visualization by attending classes and workshops, going on field trips, and meeting with female Akamai employees as mentors.
We kicked off the program on Monday evening with a meet and greet to welcome both the girls and their parents to the Akamai family. We heard from Akamai CEO Dr. Tom Leighton who reiterated Akamai's commitment to encouraging more girls and women to explore careers in tech. Mallory Grider, an Akamai intern and former teaching assistant with Girls Who Code, also left us with an inspiring closing statement by reminding the girls that despite how male-dominated the tech industry is, each and every one of the them has a right to pursue a career in computer science.
The classroom portion this week focused on introducing the building blocks of programming languages using Scratch. Scratch is a language created by the MIT Media Lab for kids and young people just getting started in the world of coding. The girls can create stories, games and animations and share them with the online Scratch community. It's a fun introduction to coding before moving on to more advanced languages in the following weeks! So far one small group recreated themselves on screen as Girls Who Code participants, chatting and asking each other questions about the program, while another group showed a character traveling around the world meeting and interacting with different animals.
Also on the calendar this week is a tour of Akamai's Network Operations Command Center (NOCC) to learn more about how the internet works. We're always impressed by how engaged the girls are each year during the tour!
Looking ahead, the Girls Who Code instructors will introduce students to so much more. They'll build robots, websites and data visualizations all culminating at the end with a final project and graduation ceremony.
To see what the girls are up to over the next seven weeks, follow us on Twitter. We'll be sharing updates several times a week!
Lauren Fisher is a strategy and operations program manager supporting Akamai's Media and Carrier business.