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Karlie Kloss Wants to ‘Transform the Status Quo’ of Women in Tech

April 3, 2017

Kode with Klossy summer camps will expand to 10 cities this year

Karlie Kloss thinks the future of women in the tech industry is at our fingertips.

The 24-year-old model and entrepreneur’s educational venture, Kode With Klossy, will offer 15 summer camps across 10 cities this year and give out around 300 scholarships available for girls eager to learn how to code.

Kloss launched the program in 2015, starting by offering 21 scholarships for young women to take coding courses at the Flatiron School, where Kloss herself took her first class. In 2016, Kode with Klossy held independent camps in New York, Los Angeles and Kloss’s hometown of St. Louis. This year, girls aged 13 to 18 in Oakland, Chicago, Austin, Detroit, Miami, Atlanta and New Orleans will also be able to study software engineering and the programming language Ruby on Rails.

“It’s very much beyond just me at this point,” Kloss said in an interview with Motto. “My vision for what Kode with Klossy can become is just a really powerful community of like-minded girls with shared passion to be the change that they want to see in the world — and to transform the status quo of the disproportionate amount of men and women in the tech industry.”

Applications for the 2017 camps open today. Motto spoke to Kloss about the impact of Kode with Klossy and her hopes for its future.

Kode with Klossy is growing quickly — how have you managed such a rapid expansion?

It really has grown beyond my wildest dreams, and yet there’s so much room for growth moving forward. This summer, we’re going to have 15 camps in 10 cities, and I think that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve been able to merely connect the dots, to tap into this large group of girls across the country and help connect them with these learning opportunities. Our alumni from past years have had tremendous success in taking what they learn in the camps and continuing to build. One group of girls earned a $50,000 scholarship after the camp, others have gone on to build a fashion magazine and others have gone on to build other projects with social impact. This is a gift that keeps on giving.

What is your vision for what Kode with Klossy could become?

These skills can be so valuable in any industry, and the young women in our camps are really aware of how powerful this skill set is. My vision and my hope is to keep supporting these girls in their career and educational aspirations, and continuing to scale this learning opportunity for as many girls as possible — but without losing the really high impact we’ve been able to give.

There’s a lot of discussion about sexism in the tech industry. Is that something you address in camp?

Our camp is an all-girl camp, and there is this real sisterhood that forms and a real strength with that. I think in general, the girls are aware that there is a disproportionate amount of men and women in the workforce in tech. Some of our teachers are women who work in the technology industry, and that’s one thing they have spoken to. I can’t speak to that personally — I have been passionate about learning to code, but I’ve never worked at a tech startup or in the tech industry myself. But definitely part of the camp is having inspiring role models and women in tech come in and give talks and share their experiences.

How have you seen the Kode with Klossy community develop?

We had a runway show here in St. Louis, and girls from our coding camps flew in from across the country to be here. They all self organized — they’re in constant communication and have really built strong friendships. That was so meaningful to me, and really quite surreal to see them all in my hometown. I think they came to support me — but also because they just wanted to hang out.

This interview has been edited and condensed.