It’s widely-known that the technology industry is predominately a boys club, with women accounting for less than a quarter of computing and technical jobs. Big-name companies Google, Square, and Codecadamy are finally joining the ranks of organizations determined to get more women working in Silicon Valley. They believe that exposing girls to technology at a young age will impact their perception of the industry and peak their interest in a tech-based career.
Google, whose workforce is 70% male, has committed $50 million over the next three years to exposing young girls to coding through their Made with Code campaign. They are initiating online coding lessons with fun projects like designing a 3D-printed bracelet and partnering with organizations like Girl Scouts of the USA and Girls Inc. to introduce coding to this network of young girls. They also offer a summer coding program for high school girls through their partnership with Girls Who Code, a non-profit that aims to provide computer science education and exposure to 1 million young women by 2020.
Codecademy, a startup based in NYC, is doing their part by offering free coding classes online and giving incentives to high school girls and teachers who take their classes.
Square is nurturing the summer camp idea. Last summer the company launched its first Code Camp, an immersive four-day program for college girls pursuing degree in computer science that includes technical sessions, leadership talks, and a “hackathon.” Rather than being outnumbered by men, as is usually the case in a normal classroom, women can code alongside other women and not feel intimidated.
“It was OK to ask questions, and it was OK to be vulnerable,” says Square engineer Kat Hawthorne, who participated in Code Camp when she was in college. “I realized that a lot of these girls felt the same pressures I did in a male-dominated field.”
Square has since launched a High School Code Camp, an eight-month after-school program for girls in San Francisco to prepare for the AP Computer Science exam.
The U.S. Department of Labor projects that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings. With enough help from tech companies and community organizations, women will hopefully make up a large percentage of these jobs.