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Girls who code

Only 12% of Computer Science degrees are awarded to women.
Only 12% of Computer Science degrees are awarded to women.
Girls Who Code

Dear LA Teacher,

My daughter was interested in computers and computer science when she started middle school. As a high school student her interest has waned. If she took up computer science as her college major, I’m sure she would be able to write her own ticket upon graduation. What can I do to motivate her?

Mom Who Codes,

Dear Mom Who Codes,

According to the August 18, 2014 Time Magazine article, “Cracking the Girl Code,” by 2020 our country’s universities won’t come close to filling one third of our nation’s 1.4 million computing positions with qualified graduates. So encouraging your daughter to major in Computer Science is smart.

What’s the problem? Eighty-eight percent of computer science degrees go to men. The obvious solution is simple. Girls need to learn how to code. (Organize data or instructions in a computer program or the set of such instructions in developing computer software.)

Reshma Saujani, an Indian-American lawyer and politician saw the problem and in 2012 launched Girls Who Code. The pilot program began with 20 girls. Today, the organization is graduating 3000 girls from clubs and camps around the U.S. Saujani reports that 95% of her graduates want to major in Computer Science when they enter their college years.

Women make most Internet purchases. It’s a fact. Women have the primary care giving responsibilities for their children, the elderly, and their husbands. Consequently, it’s important to businesses to understand their mindset. And who better to do this than female programmers. Megan Smith, VP at GoogleX says, “[The United States] is falling behind the rest of the world if we don’t teach our girls to code.”

Companies like Google know that only a tiny percent of their engineers are women. It’s not surprising that Google launched “Made With Code,” a website featuring free programming projects for girls. They have also pledged $50 million to programs like Girls Who Code.

Girls Who Code’s mission is to reach gender parity in computing fields. By 2020 women should be filling 700,000 computing jobs. To attract girls into the field adolescent girls must be exposed to computer science education.

This exposure really matters. By middle school, 74% of girls have expressed interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. However, by the time these girls reach college age, only .3% select computer science as their major. This gender gap is real.

In 2012, 100% of Girls Who Code participants stated they would definitely or more likely major in computer science. Though an after glow effect skews these results, it is a fact that exposure to an interesting subject increases desire to learn more.

Since its founding two years ago, Girls Who Code Clubs have been launched in schools, libraries, and community based organizations around the country. Take the initiative and get one started at your local high school or library.

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