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Girls Who Code Showcase Launching Female Coders Into Tomorrow's Tech Job Marketplace

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - Meet the next generation of female coders and computer scientists: Hundreds of little problem solvers filling the hallways of the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Girls from grades 6 to 10 took part in a new event showcasing their talents, reports CBS2's Charlie Cooper.

The Girls Who Code Showcase is the first of its kind. It's a collaboration between Newark public schools, Girls who Code and Institute of Technology.

The girls have been presenting coding projects that address social problems in the world. The projects created by girls from 25 schools include apps that target anti-bullying and websites that focus on climate change.

The presentations will be judged by representatives from leading tech companies like Microsoft, Apple and Verizon. At the end, one team will be named the winner.

"We're really looking to help girls not only learn to code but also to build bravery, sisterhood to really change the image of that industry and change the world," said Talya Oberofield of Girls Who Code.

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"We know nowadays in this country there are not enough people trained in computing, in the sciences, in math and so this will really help address the shortage of people in general but underrepresentation of women and minorities in math and in science careers," said Bruce Bukiet, associate dean at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

"Today they're presenting, they're communicating, they're working in teams, all these auxiliary skills that businesses and enterprise an industry really need," he said.

Some of the girls promoted recycling by using old cardboard and cups to come up with a ball toss game that used programming to make it work in a more complex way.

"We added physical programming to it so when you throw the ball into the cup it makes a sound and you also get points," said student Samaiya Chestnut.

Others made the 0s and 1s of coding come to life by creating a computer game where the main character is throwing trash away to avoid pollution.

No matter which team wins, the goal here is to close the gender gap in the field of technology and to change the image of what a programmer looks like.

"Not as many females enroll in computer science classes compared to their male counterparts," said Oberofield. "I believe the statistic is 1 in 5, 20% of the enrolled population."

"I was nervous to do coding but since I'm here now it's fun, because you get to be creative in your own way," said Jayme Raphael.

Newark's school district strategy is to continue providing opportunities like these to increase the diversity of students who enroll in computer science courses within their high schools and beyond.

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