USC Marshall, Girls Who Code Team Up

Students in a Girls Who Code classroom. Courtesy photo.

Students in a Girls Who Code classroom. Courtesy photo.

More and more business schools are embracing tech, but at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, they are taking it a step further. Not only is Marshall making it a point to introduce students to tech and entrepreneurship, they’re also introducing future computer science students to business.

This summer, Marshall teamed up with Girls Who Code, a nonprofit working to close the gender gap in tech, and hosted one of their Summer Immersion Programs. Girls Who Code teaches computer science to girls aged 13-17 through after-school clubs and its summer programs; this summer, GWC held 78 Summer Immersion Programs across 11 cities. The program lasts seven weeks, and girls learn web design, how to create mobile apps, robotics, and more.

Sandra Chrystal, vice dean for online education at Marshall, says the school has been looking into ways to draw more diverse students to its MBA program. GWC, she says, seemed perfect because it hits two of Marshall’s recruiting goals: more women, and more students interested in tech.

“The school always partners with community organizations, and the dean has made a big commitment to diversity,” Chrystal says. “Part of how we see ourselves promoting that is by channeling more people in.”

She also says it made sense to bring people interested in tech to Marshall. They’ve even considered having coding classes in their own programs. “We’re seeing how important it is, even for our MBAs, to be knowledgeable about coding,” she says.


Marshall is the first business school Girls Who Code has partnered with, and Christina Honeysett, spokesperson for GWC, says the school has been a fantastic champion of their mission.

“USC Marshall becomes home to these girls, and provides a unique opportunity for the rising junior and senior girls in the area to get a glimpse into what it’s like to learn computer science in a university setting,” Honeysett says.

Forty high school girls were accepted into the program at Marshall. GWC taught the classes, and Marshall provided the facilities, tours of the USC campus, and formal events, like the initial meet-and-greet with parents.


Each week, the curriculum focuses on a new subject, Honeysett says, from art and storytelling to robotics, websites, and apps. In the final week, the girls work on their own projects. Honeysett says students have built everything from a game that is meant to raise awareness about racial inequalities, police brutality, and gun violence, to an app that tracks the spread of the Zika virus.

“I have learned a lot this summer that I wouldn’t have thought I could ever learn in a seven-week program,” says J’adore Bailey, a 15-year-old student from Los Angeles who participated in the program at Marshall this summer. Bailey says students started off learning the basics of Scratch, a beginner’s programming language, and quickly moved up to languages like Python, C++, Javascript, HTML, and CSS.

“I am proud to say that I have animated snow, moved a robot, and built a website from scratch,” Bailey says.