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App Camp for Girls is Set to Lessen Gender Imbalance Among Developers

App Camp for Girls, a non-profit organization aimed at providing young girls an opportunity to conceptualize, design and build apps, has well exceeded its Indiegogo campaign goal of $50,000 just in time to launch its “beta” camp next week. The brainchild of Jean MacDonald, software developer and partner at Smile, a well-known company in the Mac and iOS developer community, App Camp for Girls is aimed at narrowing the gender gap in the software development industry, which is notoriously male-dominated. In a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration published in August of 2011, research showed that, while women make up nearly half of the American workforce, they hold less than 25 percent of all STEM jobs.

“When you go to these big developer conferences, you have to look hard to find the women,” MacDonald comments. “One year, while I was sitting in the audience – a sea of male faces – I thought, ‘this is more than just male-dominated. It’s almost exclusively male.’ While the Department of Commerce’s report shows that women represent less than a quarter of all STEM jobs, an already low percentage, that number becomes even lower when it comes to female mobile developers. A study conducted by Appcelerator, a software developer, and research firm IDC shows the percentage of female mobile developers is closer to just 4%, a statistic similar to what’s been unofficially reported for WWDC. There are a lot of theories about why this is, but I just wanted to do something obvious to change it.”

App Camp for Girls provides an encouraging space for young girls ages 12-14 to learn how to build apps from the ground up, allowing them to learn from female professionals and see app development as a viable career choice. Since its official launch on June 4, 2013, the campaign has taken the inter-webs by storm, with promotional support from John Gruber of Daring Fireball and garnering major backing from the likes of Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress, and Brad Feld, managing director of the Foundry Group and chair of the National Center for Women and Information Technology.

“If more girls get exposure to the creativity and fun involved in making apps, we can start to shift the balance,” says Kelly Guimont, an editor for The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) and volunteer counselor. “Software development is a hugely important part of our economy and our culture – today and for the foreseeable future. We want women to be part of that future.”

“Equal parts geeky and fun,” the App Camp formula consists of dividing girls into project teams led by a female iOS developer, with help from other women ranging from designers and testers to support specialists and more. After brainstorming apps, campers will sketch out and storyboard ideas, learning how apps are built in Xcode and getting hands-on time with Xcode Storyboards. In addition to learning how to customize the content of their apps, the girls will have the opportunity to design icons and write App Store descriptions while figuring out who their target audience is. On the last day of camp, the teams will pitch their apps to a panel of female angel investors, giving them a chance to receive valuable feedback and learn more about the business side of app development.

App developer and volunteer counselor Natalie Osten adds, “Stepping into a room full of men when you’re the only woman can be a little bit intimidating. App Camp for Girls will build self-esteem along with critical thinking and technical skills. The result will be inspired young women who are excited about app development and realize, ‘Hey I can do that!’”

App Camp for Girls Sessions:
The beta session of App Camp for Girls is filled and will be held from June 24-28 in Portland, Oregon at TaborSpace. For information on attending the regular session held from August 19-23, please fill out the Prospective Camper Interest Form.

With experience and an established program, the App Camp will move forward over the coming year with plans to expand the camp for Summer 2014 to accommodate more girls and a wider age group, and to build the organization to reach beyond Portland to other cities. MacDonald comments, “Our goal is to grow our non-profit organization into a national force, with programs in multiple cities, helping thousands of girls.”

To stay up to date on App Camp for Girls or for specific information on teaching, volunteering or donating equipment or services, please subscribe to the mailing list.

These Are the Perks:

App Camp for Girls has received a great deal of support from the community, so much so they’ve officially run out of almost all the original perks for donations. But not to worry! The team has just added a new set of perks, including:

* App Camp Bark Back for iPhone – You will receive the highly popular Bark Back iPhone protector featuring the App Camp for Girls owl ($200 USD).

* Bronze Sponsorship – You or your company will be listed on the sponsor page, with a link. You’ll also receive Twitter and Facebook shout-outs on the official pages along with the App Camp Memories photo scrapbook, the Girl-Powered Wallpaper Pack, and the digital thank you card ($1,000).

* Silver Sponsorship – You will receive a special App Camp for Girls Supporter plaque, perfect for displaying in your office, in addition to everything included in the Bronze Sponsorship package ($2,500).

* Gold Sponsorship – Camp will display your name or logo as a sponsor of the Pitch Session on the final day of camp, in addition to everything included in the Silver Sponsorship package ($5,000).

To see the full list of perks and to make a donation, visit the App Camp for Girls Indiegogo page.

App Camp for Girls would like to extend a special thanks to all the organizations that have helped make this campaign possible.

* Smile
* AgileBits
* Fish Hook
* TechStart
* Big Nerd Ranch
* Omni Group
* Fujitsu ScanSnap
* UI Stencils
* Hockey App
* DesignPony
* CreateLegal
* The Communicatrix
* Canoofle
* The Doubleclicks
* Rosie Augustine Art
* Tiny Heavy Laboratories

App Camp for Girls:
http://www.appcamp4girls.com/

Indiegogo Campaign – App Camp for Girls:
http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/app-camp-for-girls

U.S. Department of Commerces Economics and Statistics Administration Study (PDF):
http://goo.gl/mnMn2

Appcelerator/IDC Q3 2012 Mobile Developer Report:
http://goo.gl/iVZMy

Subscribe to AC4G’s Mailing List:
http://www.appcamp4girls.com/

Prospective Camper Interest Form:
http://www.appcamp4girls.com/app-camp-beta/#form

Facebook Profile:
http://www.facebook.com/boinxsoftware

Twitter Profile:
https://twitter.com/boinxsoftware

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