As the demand for technology increases daily, so does the abundance of computing jobs. With fewer than one in five Computer Science graduates being women, the gender gap in computing is worsening daily. In 1995, nearly 40 percent of CS graduates were women, but as of 2017 that number decreased to 24 percent. If nothing is done, the percent is projected to decrease to just 22 percent by 2027. Girls Who Code is on a mission to close the gender gap in technology and to change the image of what a programmer looks like and does. According to girlswhocode.com, they’re building the largest pipeline of future female engineers in the United States and were recently recognized as Most Innovative Non-Profit by Fast Company.
The largest drop in enrollment in CS programs occurs between the ages of 13 and 17, which is why Girls Who Code targets young women in that age gap. Nationwide, they host after school clubs for girls from 3rd to 5th grade and 6th to 12th grade girls to explore coding in a fun and friendly environment. They also hold 2-week specialized courses for 6th-12th grade girls on a range of computer science topics. Their 7-week summer programs are specifically designed for High School Sophomore and Juniors to learn the skills required for coding and gain exposure to jobs in the technology industry. When a girl becomes an Alumni of Girls Who Code programs, their network doesn’t end there. In addition to their 3rd-12th grade programs, Girls Who Code has a program in place to help guide their alumni to success in college by building community with other women in technology on their campuses.
Nationally amongst computer science enrollment, almost 38 percent of all students K-12 are female. When you look at the statistics for students from underrepresented populations such as black, Latina and students from low-income households, the number drops to 15 percent. Girls Who Code is on a mission to make those numbers of women in computer science proportional to the general population. That’s why their programs have served 185,000 girls to date and indirectly served over 100,000,000 women. The power of diversity in technology creates innovation and opportunity for everyone, not just girls. A diverse perspective and maximum advancement in the technology field is best achieved by closing the gender gap. Alumni of Girls Who Code whom have already declared their majors are choosing to specialize in CS related fields at a rate 15 times the national average.
Founder, Reshma Saujani, started her career as an attorney and activist and surged into the political spotlight when she became the first Indian American woman to run for US Congress. That’s why it’s no surprise that Girls Who Code has been working to draft what she called the “first-ever federal Girls Who Code legislation to encourage states to start reporting on their gender diversity data.” In order to improve the demographic of the CS field, we have to start tracking and reporting the statistics. There’s no way to change something you haven’t measured. So far this year, two states in the US have passed laws that track gender diversity in the industry - Washington and Colorado. However, Girls Who Code’s initiative is the first to mention legislation at the federal level.
A federal law mandating schools to track and report the demographics of their CS classes is critical to the impact of girls’ participation in CS programs. The current efforts to expand CS education is simply not enough. In addition to these efforts, Girls Who Code recommends that state legislatures expand computer science education to all middle schools and introduce policies that fund gender inclusion training for teachers. These efforts will increase girls’ exposure to women in technology whom they can identify with and look up to. The gender and race of an inventor plays a significant role in determining a child’s career path. One study, by Stanford professor Raj Chetty, states that if girls were exposed to female inventors as often as boys are to male inventors, the gender gap in innovation would be half what it currently is.
Next Level Solutions Developer, Brittany Wilkes saw this as the perfect opportunity to give back to an industry that has given so much to her. We are proud to support her as she teaches the Girls Who Code after school club for 7th and 8th graders in Chapin, South Carolina. She will be facilitating the club with Lori Powers, Digital Integration Specialist of Chapin Middle School. Brittany’s daughters are the reason she initially got involved, but her motivation for the program to succeed stems deeper than that. “It’s so important to get girls involved in technology before they feel unwelcome. The more exposure to the sciences they have, the better,” she explained. Brittany has been working in the field for close to 10 years and really enjoys teaching others.
All material, lessons etc. are free for the students and she’s seen a huge reward in her participation so far. “I’ve met so many talented women in this field and my hope is that - through this program - we can show young woman how exciting and rewarding computer science can be.” The program starts in September and if you’re local to the area, you can reach out to her via the information below to get involved.
Learn more at girlswhocode.com