Amidst unemployment and dismal job outlooks, computer science is thriving. The expected growth of the field is exciting and promising, and that's no secret. Yet the amount of people qualified to fill these jobs remains a fraction of what the tech industry needs-and what the tech industry really needs, is women.
Businesses, non-profit organizations, and government agencies have been scratching heads in an attempt to close the gender gap in the tech industry. Why are so few women interested in computer science? Lack of education seems to be a culprit, as does an absence of female role models in the field.
Google may be part of the problem, with 70% of its employees are male. The company is striving, however, to become part of the solution. Partnering with nonprofit organization Girls Who Code, Google initiated a "Made With Code" campaign to promote and expand female involvement in the tech industry.
Girls Who Code runs summer programs for high school girls to learn coding. Google is initiating online coding lessons in addition to the nonprofit's summer programs, and hopes to motivate mentorship in the computer science community. The company is offering $50 million in grants to ensure that its plans become reality.
The need for women to enter this field is dire, as the U.S. Department of Labor predicts 1.4 million computer-related jobs by 2020, with only 3% of those jobs filled by women.
Google's Made With Code program aims to inspire girls to enter the field by showing them that computer science isn't only for the dry tech stuff, but is also necessary in a range of fields, from fashion design to entertainment to curing diseases.
"Learning to code makes kids feel empowered, creative, and confident. If we want our young women to retain these traits into adulthood, a great option is to expose them to computer programming in their youth," says Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, on Code.org.
On Thursday, June 19, 150 girls will attend a Made With Code kickoff event in New York City, complete with musical performances, speeches by famous women in technology and in other fields and exciting and interactive coding demonstrations. Actress Mindy Kaling serves as the host, telling attendees about her overwhelming surprise at the gender bias in computer-related fields, despite her familiarity with the bias in the film and television industry. Chelsea Clinton is in attendance, as the Clinton Foundation will serve as one of Google's partners in this endeavor.
The hope is that younger girls will soon see women entering this field and will be able to relate and be inspired. One thing is certain-at the rate of job growth in computer science, the tech industry will have difficulty staying afloat without the other half of the population supporting it.