Jean MacDonald, who does the marketing for a really great software company called Smile, has started an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for App Camp for Girls. Jean has recently joined the iOS development community, and while attending WWDC last year looked around the room and took note of how few women were in the room and thought...we have to do something about this. Well, she is doing something about this. She is starting up an App Camp for Girls in her own backyard, Portland Oregon. It is a week long day camp for middle school girls (current 6th, 7th or 8th graders) where the girls are taught the basics of how to create an app for iOS. Obviously teaching the girls Objective C would be a bit ambitious for a day camp, so instead they are focusing more on the design and layout of the app within Xcode and the mechanics of actually creating the app. I tried to send my daughter there this summer, but because school starts so early here in Florida she would have had to have attended the Beta Camp that was held at the end of June and it filled up with local girls very quickly. The first actual camp is being held August 19-23 in Portland, but that is after school has already started for my daughter.
Why did I want to send my own daughter to this? Do I think she is going to be become the next great iOS developer? Possibly, but that's not why I wanted to send her. You see, when I was her age I was introduced to engineering via a high school contest put on by NASA where students are encouraged to design a mission to Mars. Thanks to a very inspiring high school teacher of mine I got invovled in the contest and advanced far enough to make it to the competition finals where I actually presented my design to NASA. That expereince gave me the confidence and drive to get me to where I am today, and I think an experience like this for young girls is just what they need. So even if my daughter decided that app development wasn't for her, I think being able to say "I have made my own app before" is enough of a confidence builder to enable her to go after anything she is interested in instead of saying "that's too hard" or "only men do that, I can't."
So what can you do to help? The Indiegogo campaign has already reached its initial goal, but they are still going after a stretch goal to expand the camp beyond the Portland area. So please consider tossing a few dollars (or even more) at this really great cause. We all love our iOS apps, but the app offerings would be that much better if we had more women developers contributing and innovating along side the men. App Camp for Girls is also looking for volunteers, so if you want to contribute that way please do!
Thank you Jean and the whole team behind App Camp for Girls. Good luck and keep pressing ahead with this great effort!!!