Defense contractor Raytheon and tech nonprofit Girls Who Code are teaming up to launch a “pilot leadership academy for STEM college students.” According to a Raytheon press release, the program is specifically for “STEM students who will soon enter the workforce.”
Girls Who Code is a nonprofit organization that aims to close the gender gap in tech. It has various clubs and programs that seek to foster a love of STEM and tech in women. It has clubs for kids as young as eight, runs summer programs and gives out grants for highschoolers, and runs career counseling and development programs for college aged participants.
Raytheon is a defense contractor that manufactures weapons of war.
The partnership program is an initiative for teaching college aged girls how to code. It includes programs to strengthen leadership, technical, and professional skills as well as networking opportunities. In a press release announcing the partnership, Raytheon hailed it as a win for diversity.
“The Leadership Academy aims to provide students from historically underrepresented groups with increased exposure to tech careers by empowering them with a supportive community of peers and professional development opportunities,” the press release said. “Students in the Leadership Academy come from more than 80 colleges across the U.S. and about 90% identify as Black, Latina, Indigenous, or first-generation college students.”
Girls Who Code will also help Raytheon with its charitable giving initiatives.
“This four-month pilot program will include small cohort meetings—designed to provide opportunities for shared learning, career mentoring, and community-building—as well as a Give Back Project,” the press release said. “Participants will receive guidance from peers and Raytheon Technologies mentors as they plan, manage, and execute community service projects. Volunteers from the company will also participate in speed networking events and technical interview prep sessions with the students.”
Raytheon is most famous not for philanthropy, but for missiles. It manufactures the BGM-109 Tomahawk, the long range cruise missile Trump ordered fired at chemical weapons facilities in Syria in 2018. They cost around $2 million each. Raytheon also makes the Javelin weapon system that has become crucial to Ukraine’s fight against Russia. Girls Who Code has partnered with Raytheon since 2018 and the organization lists the manufacturer as a “partner” on its website that donates more than $1 million to it in 2021.
The press release did not say if the Girls Who Code would be working on weapons systems and the organization did not return Motherboard’s request for comment. But the press release did offer some insights.
"At Girls Who Code, we understand that to prepare our students for the workforce; we must not only equip them with the resources they need to build on their technical skills. To help them thrive, we also need hands-on engagement that will teach them the fundamentals of growing their networks through leadership," Tarika Barrett, CEO of Girls Who Code said in the release. "We're overjoyed to partner closely with Raytheon Technologies on this pilot program and are excited by the opportunity to continue to provide students with the tools and confidence they need to make a difference."
Raytheon did not return Motherboard’s request for comment.