By Carina A. Boyce
Today, there are fewer women than men in technology related fields. This is not a surprising fact as men have historically occupied these types of jobs. Even though the number of women entering Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) fields is currently increasing, the increase is still gradual at best. According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology, women, especially women of color, are truly absent from technology fields which is evident in the statistics recorded by the NCWIT. In 2015, NCWIT said that only 25% of the computer industry jobs were filled by women. The statistics for women of different ethnicities in this work field was even smaller, with 5% of the jobs held by Asian women, 3% by African American women, and 1% by Hispanic women.
The gap in women pursuing S.T.EM. fields is most visible in the mathematics and computer science areas. For example, in high schools across the country, in 2013, only 19% of students taking AP Computer Science were girls, 25% of Intel finalists in mathematics were female, and only 14% of computer science finalists were girls. In addition, while 57% of students graduating from college in 2012 were women, according to the NCWIT, far fewer percentages of computer science graduates were women. I was able to further my studies on this topic while interviewing my mother since she did have a personal experience with this. She explained to me that while she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in computer science from a major university, it was extremely tough being the only black female and one of very few women to pursue this field.Although my mother was very brave to pursue the computer science field as a woman and wanted to pave the way for future generations of women to take part in this field, unfortunately, the number of women in the computer science field has been shrinking in past few decades.
Due to reasons listed above, programs like “Girls Who Code” began. “Girls Who Code” is an organization that focuses on introducing girls to the computer science field. This organization now has over 40,000 girls involved in coding nationally. The group says that in 1984, 37% of all undergraduate computer science graduates were women, but that has fallen to just 18% in 2016. The organization felt that if this trend continues, by 2020 there will be 1.4 million jobs in computer science with women only filling about 3% of them.The organization hopes to educate and encourage women to take up computer science and raise the number of computer science undergraduates. To further support this claim, this group presented another statistic that while 66% of girls in lower school express an interest in mathematical sciences, such as computer science, only 4% will enter college as computer science science majors. “Girls Who Code” wants to change that.
Half Hollow Hills is now joining the fight against this trend by creating our own chapter of girls interested in computer science. The group is called “XX Coders,” and it was founded by Aditi Patil with Ms. Kavner as their teacher mentor. I am thrilled to be an active member of this group, and I am so pleased to see that my own school and community is striving to make a positive change in the world. We meet on Tuesdays between 2:15 p.m. and 3 p.m. in Room 747. This year, we will begin with beginner coding and will work our way up to making more interesting games and web applications. All types of learners are welcome, as our environment is one that is attempting to lessen the intimidation of pursuing S.T.E.M. fields, something that boys have always dominated. Aditi, the creator of the group, also hopes to find keynote speakers in the future – preferably women working in technology. Aditi participated in “Girls Who Code” last year as well and gained much of her knowledge in this field when she attended different coding camps throughout the previous summers. Aditi states, “It opened my eyes to the inequality that exists between men and women in computer science and made me upset because I am so passionate about programming. This is a way to spread awareness and get more girls involved.” Aditi is clearly extremely passionate about “XX Coders,” and she is looking forward to helping women just like her follow their dreams and be successful in the computer science world. Are you a female who is interested in computer science or learning to code? If so, I hope to see you at the next meeting of “XX Coders”!