Lack of Interest or Lack of Influence?

When you ask a young child what they want to be when they grow up, you hear the usual answers of “president,” “a cop,” or maybe even “a superhero.” If this young child is a girl, you might also hear answers like “a princess,” or “a ballerina.” However, as she grows older, she realizes that her chances of becoming a princess are pretty slim, so she has to decide which real career path to take. Unfortunately, the chances of her choosing to become a computer scientist are rather slim as well, as the number of young women who choose to pursue fields related to computer science is dwindling, and an overall lack of interest in tech seems to be prevalent.

In 2010, Google created Made with Code, an initiative to influence and encourage young girls to consider pursuing paths in tech fields related to coding. Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube, posted on Google’s official blog stating that “fewer than one percent of high school girls express interest in majoring in computer science.”1

In hopes of changing this statistic, Google has not only created their own campaign, but has also given millions of dollars to programs such as Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code, Code.org, and Technovation.1 Girls Who Code, a program designed to immerse teenage girls in the world of coding, states on their website that “women represent 12% of all computer science graduates” and that “in 1984, they represented 37% of all computer science graduates.”2 This suggests that as time progresses, we are seeing a decrease in the level of interest in computer science fields by young women.

I agree that there is a significantly lower number of young women who express interest in computer science when they are young and still in school, but I wonder where the influence for that is really coming from. Could it be that their parents do not work in those fields? Is it that there are not enough female role models in the tech world? Or could it be the lack of exposure to coding in their high school classes? I’m not yet sure where the lack of influence lies, but with more organizations being created to increase the participation of young women in computer science, I am hopeful that more young women will become engaged and stay engaged in these fields as they choose their career paths.

1 Wojcicki, Susan. “Things You Love Are Made With Code.” Google Official Blog. 19 June 2014. Web.
2 “Girls Who Code.” Girls Who Code. 2014. Web.

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