Does Google Have the Solution to Tech’s Still Enormous Gender Gap?

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Google just released their workforce demographics, which revealed only 30 percent of their employees were women. Now the tech giant has a new $50 million initiative to close the gender gap.

By Jordan Hunter (Editorial Intern, Women 2.0)

When you were young, relatives would ask you what you wanted to be when you grew up. You might have said “marine biologist” or a “famous pop singer.” But would you have ever said a software engineer?

Probably not. Not many girls will. In fact, less than one percent of high school girls show any interest in majoring in computer science.

Over the years, women have lost their ground in tech careers. There are many reasons why, but Google X EVP Megan Smith explained some factors to TechCrunch. Smith said women are consistently underrepresented as computer scientists in popular culture and there are no clear role models for young women to look up to in IT fields.

So few young women pursue careers in technology because they don’t even know of the possibilities. It’s rare that girls get see early on the possibilities of what code can do -- both for fun and for their future careers.

Google aims to try to help change that. By exposing girls to tech projects that make learning about code just as fun as other standard “girly” games, Google’s new Made with Code initiative hopes to chip away at the gender gap in technology careers. Google plans to invest $50 million to the campaign over the next three years.

The Made With Code website and learning platform shows girls that everything they use -- from their phones to their favorite apps and websites -- are all made with code. And that they can be a part of creating it.

“This is an issue that hits home for me,” said Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube in a blog post announcing Made with Code. My school-age daughter instinctively knows how to play games, watch videos and chat with friends online. She understands technology. And she likes using technology. But, she never expressed any interest in creating it herself.”

Made With Code gives girls the chance to see examples of projects that are built with code. The interactive website has 13 resources from beginner to intermediate for girls to learn more about coding at various levels depending on their interest.

For example in one beginner project, you can “code” a bracelet using a Blockly programming language to set the width, diameter, color and message. Once the project is complete, the design is 3D printed by Shapeways and you get your final bracelet in the mail. Other Made with Code activities include animating GIFs and designing avatars.

Made With Code Activity
To get the campaign in front of as many girls as possible, Google is collaborating with some big names such as Chelsea Clinton, Mindy Kaling, Girl Scouts of the United States of America, Girls Inc., SevenTeen, TechCrunch and more.

"I think coding is cool, but most girls don't," actress and comedian Kaling said in a statement from the LA Times. "Made with Code lets girls see coding not just as something they can do, but something they'd love to do."

Smith encouraged those who don’t know how to code to get others to learn, even if they are not tech-savvy. “You don’t have to know how to code to encourage someone else to code,” she said at the Made With Code launch event.

Would you want to learn to code? How would it be useful in your career?


About the author: Jordan Hunter (@wannabe_wintour) is an editorial intern at Women 2.0. She is in her last year at San Francisco State University where she is pursuing a B.A. in journalism and a minor in political science and was the former Print Managing Editor of the campus newspaper. She loves everything to do with grammar and blogging about beauty.