Emma Gardner works with a student at the Girls Who Code club in Kanawha County.

Ysabel Bombardiere, BS ’00, Industrial Engineering, became an engineer who worked in the automotive and chemical industries.

In college, she got a lot out of her physics and calculus and chemistry classes. But computer science? Nope. It just did not seem accessible.
She knew about the first programmer, Ada Lovelace, who was a woman. And as Bombardiere’s daughter became a middle schooler, Bombardiere knew that she wanted this expanding world of computer science to be open to her. 

So Bombardiere taught herself how to code so that she could teach kids to code. And then she went out to find some girls who wanted to learn coding. She visited one class where boys told her: “Girls cannot code.” And she met parents who said that her club would be great: for their sons. 

Eventually, she found 15 girls and mentors – men and women in science and technology who want more West Virginia kids to choose careers in these fields. 

We heard about her club and set out to get an idea of what girls coding in Appalachia looks like. (Spoiler: It looks really exciting.) 

Ysabel Bombardiere talks to Rebecca Sutton and Rachel Coffield.

Ysabel Bombardiere talks with Rebecca Sutton and Rachel Coffield. (PHOTOS BY RAYMOND THOMPSON JR.)

Many thanks to the Kanawha County WVU Extension 4-H Girls Who Code Club, including the mentors and the girls who let us record their meeting in the spring of 2017. 

You can learn more about the club in a West Virginia University Magazine story from the Summer 2017 issue that also talks about other women from WVU who are contributing to technology and our understanding of it. 

You can find out more about starting your own coding club from the national organization Girls Who Code. And you can learn more about the Kanawha County 4-H Club

Tell us what you thought of this episode in the comments below or by e-mailing  wvumag@mail.wvu.edu.

Emma Gardner (standing) talks with Rachel Coffield and Rebecca Sutton while Christina Sivaprakasam works beside them.

Emma Gardner (standing) talks with Rachel Coffield and Rebecca Sutton while Christina Sivaprakasam works beside them.