Students at Washington Middle School in Long Beach are getting a taste of technology during a "Digi Camp" put on by a partnership between the city and Microsoft Corporation.
The first day of the camp, which took place at Long Beach Public Library on Monday, was aimed specifically at girls, who got to explore all areas of coding and heard from speakers from around the tech world, according to Microsoft spokeswoman Celeste Alleyne.
"It was a full day for them and really a wonderful opportunity for them to understand that technology is not just for boys, it's also for girls," Alleyne said. The boys' camp was happening Tuesday.
According to statistics from the National Girls Collaborative Project, women make up 47 percent of the U.S. workforce, but are represented in low numbers for many careers linked to sciences, technology, engineering and math. Careers with the fewest women include mechanical engineering, with just 7.2 percent, and environmental and earth sciences, with 27.9 percent.
"We want to see more female scientists, engineers and developers, and I think we will," Alleyne said.
Girls at the workshop heard from a Paramount executive, along with other speakers from Microsoft and the city who have backgrounds in technology.
Alleyne said that middle school is a great age to expose kids to technology, as they are beginning to think about potential careers for the future. She said Microsoft loves to hire young people who are creative, bold and strong.
"I had one young girl say to me that she wanted to be a pediatric surgeon at the age of 12, so can you imagine what she's going to be like when she's 22? So it's wonderful to hear that," Alleyne said.
The digital alliance forged between Microsoft and Long Beach was championed by Mayor Robert Garcia, Alleyne said. In addition to Digi Camps, the alliance also proposed workshops, called BizSpark sessions, to help business owners simplify everyday tasks with technology, according to a press release.