A U.S.-based non-profit focused on closing the gender gap in technology has announced it is expanding into Canada, opening clubs helping young girls learn to code.

Girls Who Code made the announcement Wednesday at the inaugural #MoveTheDial summit in Toronto, stating that it is bringing its after-school clubs program to Canada.

The program teaches young girls the basics of computer science through free after-school clubs that are run in partnership with local communities, schools, libraries, universities and other non-profit organizations. (Canadian-based equivalent programs would include Canada Learning Code and TechGirls Canada.)

The first community partner the non-profit will work with in Canada is the ‘Federation of Ontario Public Libraries’, and according to a press release, Girls Who Code hopes to create 100 more clubs across the country within the year.

Girls Who Code Club gather after school for reading and coding in Jamaica, NY. Source: Girls Who Code

“Girls Who Code is a community dedicated to empowering girls with the confidence, support, network, and technical skills they need to change the world,” said Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code. “We’re looking forward to complementing existing efforts to tackle the gender gap in technology in Canada, where the landscape is very similar to the U.S. And we’re thrilled to announce our expansion at the Move the Dial Summit.”

Saujani was a keynote speaking at the #MoveTheDial summit on Wednesday, where she indicated that Girls Who Code’s mission is perfectly aligned with #MoveTheDial’s goals to achieve gender parity in the field of technology. This is Girls Who Code’s first move into an international market and according to the release it has already seen success since its launch in 2012, reaching 90,000 girls across the U.S. and has seen its college-aged alumni majoring in computer science and related STEM fields at a rate that is 15 times higher than the national U.S. average.

According to #MoveTheDial’s website and profile of Saujani, Girls Who Code is “on track to achieve gender parity in computer science [in the U.S.] by 2027.”

Statistics show that Canada still has a long way to go in that regard, according to a 2017 report from McKinsey Global Institute, which says “women make up 47 per cent of the overall workforce in Canada, but only 23 per cent of the STEM workforce.” The report predicts that at this rate it will take 140 years to close Canada’s gender gap in technology.

Girls Who Code is bringing its clubs to Canada with the help of Morgan Stanley, the American investment bank and financial services company that has it’s largest technology hub located in Montreal.

With its first Canadian community partner, the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries, it plans to open at least 10 clubs across Ontario for girls between the ages of 13 and 18 years old. According to the release, “in clubs, girls engage in fun and simple online coding tutorials, build community through interactive activities, learn about inspiring role models in tech, and work together to design solutions to real-world problems facing their communities.”

“We’re confident that in partnership with the local community, our unique gender-specific approach and focus on engaging girls earlier in the pipeline will help increase the number of girls entering university-level computer science programs and ultimately the number of women pursuing computer science careers in Canada,” said Saujani.

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