Introducing Girls to Computer Science Skills
Growing Technology Use Creates Growing Demand
Technology is prevalent in every aspect of modern society. The need to understand and be able to create tech will be in high demand in years to come. Those who study computer science and coding will be more likely to be successful in the future workforce, but access to education is limited, especially for girls and women, who are generally less represented in fields of science.
Lack of Women in STEM
Women make up about 24% of the STEM field in the United States. This number is expected to fall to 22% if the pattern remains. Young girls need to be introduced to STEM at a young age and in an environment where they feel supported and inspired (AAUW).
Computer Science in K-12 schools is often viewed as a 'nice to have' rather than a 'must-have'. This means schools must choose between computer science and other programs more traditionally funded. Traditional science programs are proven to be less inclusive to women and girls, meaning exposure to these science careers is even less.. This gap begins in education, fueled by gender stereotypes and expectations regarding “women’s work.' Despite similar achievement scores among children of all genders in math and science, men are the overwhelming majority of students studying STEM fields in higher education (Catalyst).
Women accounted for only 32.4% of all STEM degree recipients during the 2017-2018 school year. That gap persists despite the fact that women accounted for the majority of bachelor’s degrees conferred beginning in the 1981-1982 academic year, the majority of master’s degrees in 1986-1987 and the majority of doctorates in 2006-2007(USAFacts).
However, progress is being made. The number of STEM degrees women received increased 66.3% since the 2008-2009 academic year, according to the latest data available from the US Department of Education (USAFacts).
Implementing Computer science classes as required curriculum in K-12 schools.
Encouraging gender diversity in STEM from primary education and into graduate programs and the workplace.
Promote female participation and leadership in tech companies.
Ensure workspaces are healthy and safe for women.
Number of STEM degrees conferred to women (USAFacts)
Gender Diversity Makes Economic/Financial Sense (Next Generation).
Businesses with women on the executive team are more likely to have higher valuations at both first and last funding.
First = 64% Larger
Last = 49% Larger
Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of female board directors outperform those with the lowest representation on the board by 42%.
Women Not Entering the Industry Means Women Leaving the Industry
With more women leaving the industry, it makes having role models at the top increasingly difficult. This further adds to the image of a male-dominated tech world and adds to the cycle of female discouragement (Next Generation).
Lack of Inclusion Early on Leads to Discrimination Later
The few women who begin careers in STEM face male-dominated workplaces with high rates of discrimination. Their contributions are often ignored; they experience isolation caused by lack of access to women peers, role models, and mentors and they are paid less than their male co-workers. Women leave STEM careers at disproportionately higher rates than men, particularly among those who are working parents (Catalyst).
Limited Diversity has Far-Reaching Effects
Systems of bias that push women and people of color out of STEM careers can also influence the products and services created by STEM organizations, such as artificial intelligence (AI) (Catalyst).
Women in tech or looking into tech
Parents of girls
K-12 School Programs
There are many solutions related to teaching kids to go in a gamified environment.
One of the most successful programs in the US is an incubation from MIT Labs: Scratch.
Scratch is a block-based visual programming language and website targeted primarily at children. Users of the site can create online projects using a block-like interface. The service is developed by the MIT Media Lab, has been translated into 70+ languages, and is used in most parts of the world.
Another great example is Tynker which is already working with 23 million children aged 7+ in 20,000 schools across the world to teach them how to code, create their own apps, and build their own computer programs.
The online course is available to schools, or to parents to have at home, and continues only at the pace of the child using it. The entire platform is available on the Tynker website and there are even apps available for all major smartphones and tablets.
Children follow a step-by-step process, made fun with games and activities aimed at their level of progress, and build apps they can use and show others what they have achieved. Each level will see kids build up to 16 different projects and earn points and trophies along the way.
Audiovisual Alice is another free tool to introduce girls to coding. It seeks to address the underrepresentation of women in computer science. It lets girls drag and drop blocks of code, in Java for example, to instantly manipulate 3D animals and people in a virtual world, without getting bogged down in intricate software language.
Why Aren’t There More Women in Tech- https://www.nextgeneration.ie/blog/2018/08/why-arent-there-more-women-in-tech
Girls Teaching Girsl to Code- https://www.girlsteachinggirlstocode.org/
The STEM Gap: Women and Girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math- https://www.aauw.org/resources/research/the-stem-gap/
Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM): Quick Take- https://www.catalyst.org/research/women-in-science-technology-engineering-and-mathematics-stem/
Sierra Briscoe - https://www.linkedin.com/in/sierrabriscoe/