Tech giant Google recently launched its “Made With Code” initiative, pledging $50 million and $15 million over three years in computer education grants. Google’s partners in the program include Girl Scouts of the USA and Girls, Inc. The “Made With Code” website features coding projects for kids, parent resources and inspirational stories from female mentors in technology fields. The site has virtual communities for discussions and idea exchanges. The partnership between Google and the Women Techmakers Program supports minorities and women in tech fields.
Google researched the numbers behind tech jobs and identified causes for the lack of diversity in tech personnel. Statistics indicating 1.4 million computing and tech jobs available by 2020 with only 400,000 U.S. computer science graduates to fill them provided a sobering backdrop. Women represent only 12% of the computer science degrees today, in stark contrast to 1984 when 37% of computer science graduates were women. Women occupy 25% of IT jobs in American, and only 3% of IT jobs belong to African Americans. At Google, African Americans and Hispanics make up a tiny minority of tech workers. This threatens the survival of tech giants like Google, so the company vowed to create a more inclusive tech community.
The Google studies found less than 1% of high school girls saw computer sciences as part of their future. Google created “Made With Code” to help parents encourage kids’ experience success in computing and coding. Google formed a national searchable database of programs for girls interested in the tech sciences. Early exposure to coding helps girls understand the role of technology in their lives. They become more likely to include coding in their career aspirations. Girls build confidence in their coding abilities.
Google will also work with Hollywood to increase the number of women and minorities portrayed as computer professionals. Reshma Saunjani, founder of Girls Who Code, summed it up by stating, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” As long as people do not know what computer scientists do or how computer sciences and daily life interact, the impact of technology remains a mystery.
People who take advantage of the Google coding education opportunities learn skills fundamental to nearly every aspect of modern life. The Girls Who Code site contains 13 coding projects such as music and GIF production, and Blockly-based coding activities. Videos made by female mentors focus on how girls can combine coding with creative pursuits such as dance and music. The Google initiatives provide resources to help people pay for coding lessons. They reward teachers who encourage girls to take computer science courses.
Google will pay for thousands of minority and women in the tech careers to advance their skills by paying for three months of continuing education on the Code School website. One thousand free accounts were initially created, and referrals will fill out the remaining free accounts. People interested and qualified may apply for a code, too. Google wants kids in school to learn to code and to help working or aspiring IT professionals continue learning up-to-date skills. They offer many Google-specific technology courses as well as intermediate to experienced technology courses. This dual-pronged approach invests in people who will continue to innovate and advance the IT community.