With coding being touted as the new foreign language, it’s clear that girls are falling behind in literacy. According to Girls Who Code, in middle school, 74 percent of girls express interest in STEM subjects, but when they choose a college major, only 0.4 percent of girls select computer science. In 2015, girls made up less than 22 percent of all students who took the AP Computer Science exam. And only 18 percent of computer science degrees are awarded to women.
It’s clear that girls are not receiving the same technology education that their male counterparts are. But why is it so important that girls learn to code?
In short, it limits the potential that computer science offers our world. If the world’s technology is made mostly by the male half of the world’s population, not only are women missing out on the opportunity to innovate and create new solutions using technology, but the possibilities that computer science offers are not being fully realized. It’s been proven countless times that diverse teams perform better. In fact, companies in the top quarter for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have higher financial returns than their less diverse counterparts! Getting more women involved in computer science will allow females to bring their unique viewpoints and ideas to the table, which leads to better problem solving and overall business performance.
Getting more girls into coding is not only good for women and business, but it’s good for the economy as well. According to an estimate from the U.S. Department of Labor, by 2020 there will be more than 1.4 million computing-related job openings. However, we can only fill about 30% of those jobs with the current rate of computer science graduates. Girls represent a valuable, mostly untapped talent pool.
Empowering more girls to learn to code is clearly an important mandate for parents and educators alike. While the national Computer Science for All initiative should make technology education more accessible to girls at school, there are plenty of ways to get girls into coding outside of the classroom as well. Here are 5 easy ways to get girls into coding:
- Meet them where they are.
Today, there are plenty of ways to get girls excited about coding by incorporating interests they already have. One popular choice is to learn to code with Minecraft, since the game was created and can be modified using the most popular coding language in the world, Java!
- Join a coding club or camp.
Coding clubs and camps are a great way to introduce girls to coding, as they provide a learning experience coupled with a fun social setting. From fun summer tech camps to Girls Who Code Clubs, it’s likely that there’s an option near you.
- Encourage your kid’s school to teach coding.
Although some schools already incorporate computer science into their curriculum, this opportunity is certainly not ubiquitous. You could urge your kid’s teacher to participate in a one-day training from Code.org, which are available to teachers to bring technology to the classroom, or share their other resources with your school board.
- Provide girls with technology resources and experiences.
- Be a source of encouragement and empowerment.
The importance of supporting girls as they learn to code cannot be overstated! Serving as a source of encouragement and support will help girls feel more confident as they navigate and practice their new skill.
The Bottom Line
With all of the resources and opportunities available today, getting girls into coding is easier and more accessible than ever. Parents and educators must take action, however, to encourage more girls to learn and pursue computer science for the betterment of their future opportunities and our world as a whole.