“Made with Code”: Will girls code more now?

Google recently launched Made with Code, a 3-year $50mil. initiative to attract young women to be more excited about computer science and contribute to reducing the apparent gender gap in the tech industry. The company published its current status of diversity here at the end of May this year, saying “we’re the first to admit that Google is miles from where we want to be.”

Excerpt from a TechCrunch article:

The Made With Code website will offer resources and projects for kids to learn how to code, communities to discuss different lessons and projects with each other and mentors, as well as information about regional events. This is all in an effort to get women in the driver seat when it comes to the technology of the future.

Looking at the numbers, women have actually lost ground when it comes to getting Computer Science degrees in the U.S.

Google X EVP Megan Smith explained that there are a number of factors that can turn this around, all of which are well within our grasp. The first is to encourage young girls to try coding, even if the person doing the encouraging isn’t technical. “You don’t have to know how to code to encourage someone else to code.”

The discussion on women in tech and engineering has been going on for a bit, and according to this Quartz article which quotes the data based on a public Google Spreadsheet, “tech companies employ an average of 12.33% women engineers.” (note: the companies appear to be mostly American, if not all.)

Is this a problem? Yes. Now approximately half of university students are women for most institutions, if not more. Choosing non-engineering and science discipline is not a problem per se, but the deeper societal issue is the way that we program (no pun intended) girls since they are young, telling them that they are not good at numbers and sciences and not believing in them, consciously and unconsciously. Lacking women’s representation (along with other minorities in terms of race, sexual orientation, age, etc.) is likely to lead to lack of their presence in creative process, decision making and corporate/organizational culture, not to mention that it is more likely to have sexist environments (read this NYT article discussing sexism in tech world).

So for now, I do applaud Made with Code initiative and am very keen on observing the progress. I would be curious to know other countries’ cases, such as India where institutions like the prestigious IIT are producing massive number of talented engineers (and not to forget the discussions on gender violence and sexism are actively happening throughout the country).