Girls Gone Google
June 24, 2014

Girls Gone Google

I have always been interested in technology: computers, video games, and even music players. My parents never held me back from these interests. In fact, often we purchased new technology based on my interests, but none of my female friends showed the same interest. Then in school, all the computer classes were heavily male dominated, so I did not fit in. I still pursued my own interests and taught myself, but it would have been nice to have formal training and a group of others interested in technology to help support me. Plus, having role models would have made my experience even better. But females were noticeably lacking in technology.

Within the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) disciplines, all suffer from a gender imbalance. Males dominate these fields, and so most are working very hard to bring the imbalance to more balance between the genders. Google is actively working to help out with technology by hosting a $50 million coding initiative focused on young girls, as USA Today recently published. Google’s entire initiative is called “Made with Code,” and the focus is helping young girls and young women learn just what fun they can have with coding as well as its versatile uses.

The effort could not come sooner as statistics show that males vastly outnumber females in the coding field. In fact, Google’s work force consists of a 70 percent male crew, and they are certainly not the only technology company with such a male-dominated workforce. Moreover, there are more and more coding jobs going left unfilled because there is a lack of experts to fill the spots. By 2020 there will be 1.4 million coding jobs but only about a quarter of those will get filled because of a lack of qualified candidates.

The USA Today article explains that interested parties like Chelsea Clinton and Mindy Kaling as well as experts like Google Vice President Megan Smith show that one major obstacle is that there is a lack of female role models in the field. Facebook and Yahoo have Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer, respectively, and Google has Megan Smith, but these simply are not enough. These women are paving the way, but the coding field needs more women to sit as role models in order to inspire the younger generation.

This is partially why Google is hosting the Made with Code events. The company wants to catch the interests and attentions of young girls so that these females grow to want to study technology and coding. If females are introduced when they are younger to the myriad ways that coding can be used, then the field is more likely to interests females for the future. And since the majority of college graduates today are female, it only makes sense to help females experience the fun and variety of coding.

For decades women have had to break into different fields that were previously dominated by males, which include medicine and law. With the rate at which computer technology has grown, it is slightly surprising that women are just now breaking into the field. Of course, without role models to lead the way, it can be very hard to find one’s way into a field that is stereotypically associated with white males.

All I know about computers, I taught myself, so it makes me really happy to see technology companies like Google providing events focused on helping other young girls learn about technology like coding in a much easier way. Coding is not just about video games; it is used in medicine, science, law, engineering, business, and education. This is why it is so important to teach everyone, but especially females, about its purposes, benefits, and uses. Way to go Google!

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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