By Elton Gomes
On Monday, tech giant Apple announced that it would launch its first initiative to boost support for women entrepreneurs through Entrepreneur Camp, a technology lab that focuses on app development. In addition, it would also offer new resources to open thousands of free “Hour of Code” sessions at several of its Apple Stores across the world to bring coding education to students.
Apple’s Entrepreneur Camp aims “to create new opportunities for app-driven businesses owned or led by women through an intensive technology lab, specialized support and ongoing mentoring,” the company said in a statement.
What is the Entrepreneur Camp for women?
Apple’s app development programme seeks to address the technology industry’s scarcity of women in executive and computer programming jobs. Under the initiative, known as Entrepreneur Camp, announced on Monday, female entrepreneurs and programmers will attend two-week tutorial sessions at Apple’s Cupertino, California, headquarters.
The two-week camps will be held every three months, and will begin its pilot session in January 2019. For each round, Apple will accept up to 20 app-driven businesses. These businesses “must be female-founded, co-founded or led and have at least one woman on the development team”. Furthermore, Apple will cover all travel-related expenses for up to three workers from each accepted company.
Applications are now being accepted for the two-week camps. Once accepted, Apple will give each company the opportunity to send three attendees to its headquarters at Cupertino, California for the 14-day immersive program. In Entrepreneur Camp, applicants will be offered one-on-one code-level instruction from Apple’s engineers, as well as sessions on design, technology, and App Store marketing.
Apple has been making efforts to lower its dependence on men in high-paying tech jobs. According to statistics shared by Apple, in 2017, women filled 23 percent of technology jobs – a slight improvement from 20 percent in 2014.
“We wanted to focus on women who already have an app-driven business, and we don’t require them to have an iOS app,” Esther Hare, Apple’s Senior Director of Worldwide Developer Marketing, told TechCrunch.
“This isn’t an incubator where you come with a good idea and we help you think through it. It’s about already having a good idea, maybe they want to incorporate machine learning or augmented reality, or use some of Apple’s other technologies,” Hare said.
Apple has conducted similar development workshops in the past, but this is the first that emphasises on companies founded by women. Keeping inclusivity at the forefront, Hare said “we designed this program with all underrepresented minorities in mind — particularly women of color,” as per the TechCrunch report.
Apple releases new materials for its coding education programme for students
In addition to the Entrepreneur Camp for women, Apple also said it will offer new resources to open thousands of free “Hour of Code” sessions at its Apple Stores across the world to bring coding education to students. The Cupertino-based company said that customers can register for coding education, which will be made available through the “Everyone Can Code” programme. These programmes can be accessed at all Apple stores from December 1 to December 14.
For the sixth year, Apple said it will host these daily coding sessions known as “Hour of Code”. These sessions will give people an opportunity to learn coding. Kids Hour sessions will help children aged six to 12 to explore coding with robots. Those aged 12 and above can attend sessions using Swift Playgrounds and an iPad to learn coding concepts.
Bringing coding education to students, Apple rolled out new resources that have been designed to disseminate coding education through their existing “Everyone Can Code” programme. Apple had launched the programme in 2016. It is a comprehensive program and curriculum to help students from kindergarten to college and beyond learn coding to solve problems and prepare them for the workforce.
With a view to teaching coding outside the classroom, Apple introduced Swift Coding Club materials that will allow teachers and students to start their own coding clubs. This Swift Coding Club comes equipped with Swift, Apple’s easy-to-learn programming language used by professional developers to create world-class apps.
Furthermore, to celebrate Computer Science Education Week, Apple created a new Hour of Code Facilitator Guide to help educators host sessions in their classroom using Swift Playgrounds and other iPad apps.
How will this help Apple?
Training programmes in huge tech companies, despite their popularity, haven’t had their intended effect of diversifying the workforce. Google’s training programmes for girls and women pursuing careers in technology hasn’t done much to diversify the workforce.
For start-ups, female founders face more difficulty than men when it comes to funding, training, and support. Apple said that in 2017, women received $1.9 billion in funding compared to $83.1 billion for men.
However, women-owned business are growing over two times faster than the US national average, with women-led tech startups delivering a 35 per cent higher return on investment than those start-ups led by men, Apple said.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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