March 3, 2016 | Brandon Hazzard |
Computer coding is the hot new topic to teach students in classes today. The education blogs, tech blogs, etc are all abuzz by the importance of teaching coding in the school classroom. The iPad and iPhone have created a new style of learning. The mobile device in the classroom. These simple device has created a catch phrase, “There’s an App for that.”
With everybody looking to create apps, computer programs, XBox, PS4, or whatever gaming device out there, programmers are an essential part of the tech world workforce. What’s missing? Few girls are involved in the modern day process. While researchers haven’t pinpointed an exact reason, they have identified a correlation between the 1984 launch of the home computer matching the downward trend of fewer women in computer science. Hollywood has contributed to this narrative by featuring men in important computer roles. Subsequently, more computers were bought for boys than that for girls. 1990s researchers polled students at Carnegie Mellon University in introductory computer science classes and found that men were far advanced in their computing knowledge over their female counterparts. With the bar set high, the female computer science major was struggling to make the cut.
In 2006, women earned about 50% of the science and engineering bachelor degrees; yet, only 20% of the computer science degrees. In today’s society the gap must be closed. Women make up 50% of the workforce, but only hold 25% of the technology jobs. The stereotype of the male geek has to be broken. Women in computer science are just as important to our future of science and technology. There are plenty of girls out there that love to compute and code. Researchers have seen the dramatic decline of women in technology professions, and have tried to take steps to reverse this trend.
Believe it or not, office and classroom decor have played into this decline. More inviting, less gender biased decorating have been implemented in offices and classes around the world. Will this fix the gender inequality? Will decorations and interior design make more females want to code? It doesn’t hurt.
In education, we have to do more to encourage coding. Code.org/girls has a wonderful way to recruit more young girls into the world of coding. Girlswhocode.org is a phenomenal experience for girls who are interested in coding. These are just a few of the resources out there that are targeted specifically at the future female computer scientists.
The First Academy offers an extracurricular coding course after school – over 50% enrolled are female. As parents and educators, we have to pass the message to our young girls that computers are exciting and that they are just as important to our computer science future as the boys. In middle school, 74% of girls express interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), but when choosing a college major, just 0.4% of high school girls select computer science.
In today’s economy, jobs are an ever important topic of politics and reality. The U.S. Department of Labor projects that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings. Yet U.S. universities are expected produce only enough qualified graduates to fill 29% of these jobs. If you have a daughter, this should really be a huge point of emphasis. We as a society have to take those 74% middle school girls and somehow keep them excited about the STEM. If we do that, we can change our world and our daughters’ world!