“Things you love are made with code.” That’s the message that Google wants to send to girls.
To that end, the search engine giant has launched Made with Code, an initiative to inspire girls to code and build technology.
In a post on Google’s official blog, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said there are “far too few women and far too few young girls” in the technology field, and that less than one percent of high school girls express interest in majoring in computer science.
“This is an issue that hits home for me,” Wojcicki wrote. “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.”
So, Wojcicki began introducing her daughter to coding resources and connecting her with other girls interested in computer science.
The Made with Code initiative will do this on a larger scale for all girls.
Partnering with the Girl Scouts, Girls Inc., Chelsea Clinton, Mindy Kaling, the MIT Media Lab, TechCrunch, Seventeen magazine, the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), and other groups, the initiative aims to reach millions of girls through various programs.
The programs include coding projects, working with Girls, Inc. and the Girls Scouts to introduce coding into their networks, and a $50 million commitment from Google over three years to support initiatives to get more women into computer science.
“Nowadays, coding isn’t just a skill useful for working at a tech company; engineering isn’t just for engineers,” Wojcicki wrote in her post. “Interior design. Medicine. Architecture. Music. No matter what a girl dreams of doing, learning how to code will help her get there.”
The Made with Code initiative also includes video profiles of women using code in their dream jobs and a resource directory that parents can use to get their daughters excited about computer science.
Google is also collaborating with DonorsChoose.org to reward teachers that support girls who take computer science courses on Codecademy or Khan Academy. In addition, the company is working with the Science and Entertainment Exchange to get more depictions of female engineers on television and film.
The low numbers of women in technology is a concern that has been echoed among women in the field.
“The numbers hurt: Women constitute more than half of the professional workforce, but only a quarter of workforce in tech,” Lucy Sanders, CEO and co-founder of NCWIT, said in a statement. “It’s a problem, bordering on a crisis. We won’t solve it easily, or quickly. But Made with Code is a great step in the direction of reversing this trend, and getting more and more girls to use coding to accomplish amazing things by doing what they love.”
The new initiative builds on Google’s $40 million investment since 2010 with organizations like Code.org, Black Girls Code, Technovation, and Girls Who Code.
“Coding is a new literacy and it gives people the potential to create, innovate and quite literally change the world,” Wojcicki said in a statement. “We’ve got to show all girls that computer science is an important part of their future, and that it’s a foundation to pursue their passions, no matter what field they want to enter. Made with Code is a great step toward doing that.”Zeninjor Enwemeka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Zeninjor.