Girls Who Code Founder Reshma Saujani is out to prove the notion girls don't fit in the world of tech is false, stating that girls and boys are groomed from a young age to enter different careers and that girls will miss out on opportunities if they avoid STEM fields, EdScoop reports.
According to a study from Accenture and Girls Who Code, there were 40,000 computer science graduates in 2015, but 500,000 jobs, and the percentage of women in computer science majors dropped from 37% in 1984 to only 18% in 2014.
So far, 185,000 girls have learned how to code through the Girls Who Code organization, and 50% of those girls come from the underrepresented Latina and African American groups, as well as the low-income community.
There are hundreds of thousands of STEM jobs, but only a handful of females qualified to fill them. The National Science Board reports women make up only 29% of the science and engineering workforce, and there is evidence the gap is growing.
It’s not that schools don’t offer these programs to girls, but rather that girls don’t want to be affiliated with the stereotypes. Saujani said girls think of coding as a profession best suited for "hoodied" nerds who work out of basements — a stereotype to which many female students can’t relate.
Female mentors, however, can facilitate changes in girls’ attitudes toward these professions. Saneeya Khan, a UX designer, works in a male-dominated industry full of office politics, and knowing what it feels like to be the only woman in the office, she is helping attract young girls to these fields through mentoring. In addition to her day job, she teaches digital design for ListoAmerica, which is part of Clubhouse Network.
Peninsula School District, in Washington state, also hosts an all-girl STEM career workshop for 150 middle-schoolers every year that features women in STEM fields demonstrating their profession. The idea is to show middle school girls women can excel in professions typically dominated by men. Joy Gionvanini, the highly capable coordinator for the district, said female students often need personal invitations to take STEM classes and are more willing to do it if their female friends will be taking the class as well.
In a recent visit to Washington, D.C., schools to promote computer science grants for 2,000 area high schools, Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos told students, who included some girls, to “keep at it” because coding skills "can change your life."