If you happen to sit in on a computer science class in any typical American university, chances are you’ll notice that female students are few and far between. Nationally, representation of women in computing has decreased since the 1980s by 20 percent in some areas. But all hope is not lost, ladies — a group of tech companies hope to put some girl power back into computing and information technology.
Twitter, General Electric, Google, and eBay announced on Tuesday that they were joining an initiative called “Girls Who Code,” a new organization working to educate, inspire, and equip 13- to 17-year-old girls with the skills and resources to pursue opportunities in technology and engineering. The company hopes that their teaching and mentoring program will increase the number of women who enter the computing and information technology field.
According to the website, while 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees are obtained by women, less than 14 percent of computer science degrees are awarded to women. In the workforce, women only comprise 14 percent of engineers. These dismal statistics are a bit ironic, because females use the internet 17 percent more than their male counterparts and represent the fastest growing demographic online and on mobile.
Girls Who Code hopes to bridge the gender gap. This eight-week program held in New York City will give 20 high school girls the chance to learn how to build websites and mobile apps, and even how to start their own companies.
The organization was founded by Reshma Saujani, former Deputy Public Advocate of New York City. Saujani has worked to close the gender gap in STEM education and empower girls to pursue careers in tech and engineering. She hopes the program will grow and that they’ll be able to host Girls Who Code workshops in cities across the country. “From the beginning, we wanted to create this sisterhood,” Saujani said. “You have 56 percent of the labor force that you’re not utilizing, and so you’re missing out on innovation … We need everyone operating at their top potential, which means we can’t have an entire gender not opting into this field.” Watch Saujani’s Ted Talk here.
To support Girls Who Code, contact them or follow them on Twitter at @girlswhocode.