While coding jobs aren't growing as fast as they used to, the majority of the programming workforce is made up of men. In Canada, only nine percent of software development graduates are female, and women with technology degrees account for just 21 percent of graduates. New programs are being launched to help bridge this gender gap in the programming industry.
One new program that just launched is Girls Who Code, which is trying to close the gender gap by teaching girls to code as early as possible. Let's take a closer look at this new program and what it's hoping to achieve.
Introducing Girls Who Code
Girls Who Code is a North American program that was started in 2012 by Reshma Saujani, a lawyer from New York who noticed during her campaign for Congress that most schools were lacking computer science programs for girls. In the six years since it's launch, Girls Who Code has taught programming skills to more than 90,000 girls across the country between 6th and 12th grade during the school year.
Ninety-five percent of the program graduates later went on to attend college with a focus on computer science. While Saujani lost her congressional race, what she learned on the campaign path has allowed her to create a new program that's changing the lives of thousands of girls across the country.
Girls Who Code Canada
On November 7th, 2018, Girls Who Code became an international company by launching a program branch in Canada. This activity is the company's first foray outside of the United States, and the company has hopes to expand to more than 100 clubs across the country within the next year.
In a country where 47 percent of the workforce is made up of women, but only 23 percent of the STEM workforce is made up of the same, it's estimated that it could take upwards of 140 years to close the gender gap in programming and computer science.
Girls Who Code is hoping to accomplish the goal in the next nine years instead. In the United States, the company has paired with a lot of tech giants like Adobe, Amazon, Microsoft and The Walt Disney Company to provide their program alumni with job opportunities with some of the biggest companies in the world.
Girls in STEM
With the massive gender divide that exists in STEM, it's more important than ever to encourage girls to take an interest in STEM and STEAM careers. What can parents and educators do to promote this interest?
Programs like Girls Who Code are a good first step. They offer programs during the school year and during the summer to teach the basics of computer science.
Encourage girls to listen to leading women in the fields that they're interested in. Companies like Leading Authorities, Inc. are constantly looking for new speakers to encourage young girls and women new to the industry to take chances and set themselves apart.
Teachers can help by introducing STEM and STEAM to girls as early as possible. The earlier students are introduced to the concept of STEM, the easier it is for them to catch the bug and the more likely it is that they'll continue into STEM-related careers.
Girls aren't the only ones who can benefit from STEM education, but with the majority of professionals in the field being male, encouraging girls to look into careers in things like computer programming and other STEM fields can be a great way to help bridge the gender gap. Canada might be the first international foray for Girls Who Code, but it definitely won't be the last.