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‘Coding Girls’ get ready for the future

Tech firms in Hungary are giving their support to a program designed to encourage the next generation of women in IT.

Hungary has an untapped pool of future IT professionals: Young women, who are extremely underrepresented in IT education, even compared with the rest of Europe or the region.

To involve more young girls in the IT sector, firms such as Google, Microsoft, Prezi and Z have joined Skool, which seeks to get young women acquainted with IT. The organization, set up by former LogMeIn talent manager Szilvia Koleszár, runs a range of programs from one-day workshops to 10-week-long camps mentored and financed by firms and volunteers. Kolesszár came up with the idea while on a fellowship in New York, where she developed a method to demonstrate that young women can enjoy, and thrive, in IT education. Upon her return last year she started Skool; having completed a few workshops and a camp, she decided to take over a similar program run by Prezi, an in-house course for high school girls who had one year until the final exams.

“Coding Girls” ran for six months from January 2014 and introduced 14 girls to the world of IT. Skool’s popularity has constantly been growing, with applications exceeding available spots by four or five times. The syllabus changes, depending on the type of course, with topics like robotics, mobile app development, computer graphics and animation, as well as web design.

At its after-school program this summer, during two-week camps (costing HUF 55,000) designed around a spaceship scenario, the young women learned how to program, understand robotics basics, do some HTML-coding, and handle web development. These skills were topped off with training in project management and presentation skills. “Our goal is to grow into a country-wide network of clubs, so that not only girls in the capital have access to these courses,” Koleszár told the Budapest Business Journal.