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Monday, 23 June 2014 16:47

Google invests $50 million for more women in tech Featured

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Google wants to see more women in technology and is putting its money where its mouth is, announcing a $50 million initiative in a bid to close the technology gender divide and teach girls how to code.

The tech giant opened its Made with Code conference with celebrities Chelsea Clinton and Mindy Kaling, who joined Google and around 150 high-school aged girls to announce the new program which will teach young girls that things they love and use everyday, including apps, websites, TV shows and movies are 'made with code'.

The program will show girls they can use code, normally seen as exclusively the domain of men, and apply it to their own individual passions. Google says less than 1% of girls are interested in studying computer science.

Google is investing $50 million into the program over the next three years, and Made With Code has a number of partners helping out including Chelsea Clinton, Mindy Kaling, MIT Media Lab, Girl Scouts of the USA, Girls Inc., Girls Who Code, the National Center for Women and Information Technology.

Google said 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.

Just last month, Google announced that only 17% of its tech employees are women, promising to do more to help bridge the gap. Google X EVP Megan Smith explained that there are a number of factors that can help reverse the norm, including encouraging young girls to try coding.

"You don’t have to know how to code to encourage someone else to code," Smith said, adding that for many girls there are no real coding heroes for girls to look up to. In television shows for example, men are represented as the computer scientists far more than women.

Made With Code looks to solve these problems, as well as encourage others to take steps to encourage young girls to try coding, and give them people to aspire to be like.

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.

“Nowadays, coding isn’t just a skill useful for working at a tech company; engineering isn’t just for engineers,” Wojcicki wrote.

“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. The company is also working with the Science and Entertainment Exchange to get more depictions of female engineers on television and film.

“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 the National Center for Women and Information Technology, said.

“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.

“Coding is a new literacy and it gives people the potential to create, innovate and quite literally change the world,” Wojcicki said.

“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.”

For more information check out the Made with Code website.

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