Stereotypically and traditionally, manufacturing and STEM-related careers are associated with men, stinky factories, and sweat-filled assembly lines. These cultural stigmas are one of the main reasons America is having such a rough time keeping and adding women to the manufacturing field– the numbers just aren’t there.
And more importantly, these stigmas just aren’t true anymore. Smog-filled factories have been replaced by tech labs and computers and research that requires a high-level of education in many cases, or at least more skilled labor than most people realize.
Dropping statistics like the fact that women currently represent 12% of all computer science graduates when in 1984 they represented 37% of all computer science graduates has inspired organizations working to create a movement to reverse this pattern– enter, Girls Who Code. This awesome organization has made it their goal to work to inspire, educate, and equip girls with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities.
The team at GWC believes that exposing more girls to computer science at a young age will lead to more women working in technology and engineering fields. This is evidenced by the fact that in middle school, 74% of girls express interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), but when choosing a college major, just 0.3% of high school girls select computer science. The ultimate goal? To provide computer science education and exposure to 1 million young women by 2020.
The organization has teamed up with educators, engineers, and entrepreneurs to pair education in robotics, web design, and mobile development with mentorship from the industry’s top female engineers. After launching in 2012 with just one program in New York City, GWC has since expanded the summer immersion program to 8 programs in five cities nationwide. They’re also actively working to launch clubs in schools, libraries, and community based organizations across the country.
Girls Who Code was founded by a pretty awesome girl who codes herself: Reshma Saujani. Saujani is the founder and CEO, a position she took on after becoming the first South Asian woman to run for congress on the platform of promoting smarter policies to spur innovation and job creation. She’s also the author of a new book called Women Who Don’t Wait in Line, released in October 2013.
For girls interested in an immersion of technology and computer experiences, the summer immersion programs are held around the country (there isn’t one in Nebraska, yet, but Midwestern girls can take a look at the Chicago experience). For those looking to bring the experience closer to home, think about starting a Girls Who Code club at your school or in your community. You can find more information about how to do so on their website.
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photo credit: Girls Who Code Facebook