CODella camp aims to fix shortage of Latinas in tech fields
The sea of young girls in pink shirts rippled as the grown-ups filed into a Miami corporate boardroom. One girl leaned over to her friend.
“She looks fancy. I like her sweater,” she whispered.
“I like her job,” her friend replied.
Facing off with the elementary school girls were employees from four departments at CareCloud, a healthcare-technology company. The company staffers were all female — perfect role models for the summer campers sponsored by CODeLLA. It’s an eight-week tech entrepreneurship and coding immersion program for young Latinas, one of the most under-represented groups in the tech world.
The summer camp collaborates with Centro Mater Child Care Services to provide almost 30 girls from Little Havana and Hialeah with free coding and entrepreneurship classes, said CODeLLA founder Josie Goytisolo. Starting July 20, the organization also will be offering podcasts of coding lessons at www.codella.org. The organization also runs after-school programs for girls ages 8 to 12.
Recently the workers from CareCloud, which creates software and technology to improve efficiency for health practitioners, met with campers during a field trip to the corporate office to share experiences and tips.
Product designer Maite Rodriguez drew on familiar real-world examples to explain the development process.
“Who likes the monkey bars? I know I do,” she said, as the girls took notes in their blue writing pads. “How do you think they designed it?”
Software engineer Nereida Rosado told the girls that many colleagues in tech fields still dominated by men seem surprised at her expertise.
“A lot of people tell me, ‘I’ve never seen anyone like you before.’ There’s a stereotype for people in tech,’’ she said. “They’re expecting geeky guys. But these women? We break those stereotypes.”
One slide in the CareCloud presentation featured Wonder Woman, gold bracelets reflecting a beam of light. The slide heading? “A day in the life of a software engineer.”
“Don’t wait for a Wonder Woman movie to feel inspired,” Eva Chipana, a senior software engineer, told the campers. “You can be your own wonder woman.”
After the presentation, the girls switched to a product management and design session then a product development and quality assurance session led by the women. CODeLLA has also expanded on the coding program this year to introduce the girls to robotics.
Ten-year-old Amaya Cosio, in her second year in the program, had some stern words for people who believe only boys can become code masters.
“It only matters if you’re enthusiastic about it,” she said. “ It doesn’t matter if you sexually identify as a snake — you just have to be passionate about it.”
For more information, visit www.codella.org or email Madelyn Llanes at email@example.com.