This past Sunday, the RSO CompileHer hosted its annual Tech Capstone event for 200 middle-school and high-school girls.
The Capstone was run by volunteers, experienced undergraduate student instructors, and board members of CompileHer who worked alongside University administrators and professors.
Participants rotated through interactive classes that focused on topics in computer science and problem solving.
“It was a cool and rewarding opportunity to teach girls computer science, and it was something that I wish I had in high school, where my coding classes were predominantly male,” first-year Sophia Tang said.
Fourth-year Sydney Ko, a CompileHer board member, said that the event focused on engaging girls in the community with computer science.
According to Ko, CompileHer was originally established by a small group of undergraduate students four years ago as a local chapter of the national organization FEMMES (Females Excelling More in Math, Engineering, and Science).
“As the organization grew, we noticed that the syllabus of our educational events focused largely on computer science, and that based on statistics of AP scores, female student participation in [the] computer sciences was particularly low,” Ko said. “So, we decided to rebrand FEMMES as CompileHer last January.”
CompileHer now regularly hosts two events—the Tech Capstone and a hackathon—and also organizes weekly workshops every Monday at local middle and high schools in order to engage more girls for a longer period of time.
The hackathon takes place during the winter, and is limited to 80 participants due to a limited number of computers. It is team-focused and participants build apps in a day via frameworking.
Ko mentioned that the organization ensures that girls who leave CompileHer are given extensive resources to study computer science outside of the event, and are left with a strong sense of community with each other.
“I know some of the girls here by name and being a part of this feels like you’re actually building a community and impacting people’s lives with technology,” Ko said. “Knowing that so many people are coming together to host and participate in this event—that is just so rewarding.”