Not long after it opened up about its lack of staff diversity, Google has launched a program aimed at closing the gender gap in Silicon Valley. Several associations are helping the company spread the word to girls about why coding is cool.
“Things you love are Made With Code.”
That’s the simple message that Google is setting out to spread among girls with its new Made With Code initiative, which the company launched last week in partnership with a number of nonprofits and technology organizations.
Google has committed $50 million over three years to the program, which includes
- coding projects like creating a bracelet with a 3D printer, making animated GIFs, and “accessorizing” selfies
- a series of videos featuring women in technology who talk about the positive impact that coding has made in the world
- a resource directory that provides parents and girls information about local coding events, classes, camps, and clubs.
“Coding is a new literacy and it gives people the potential to create, innovate, and quite literally change the world,” YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said in a statement announcing the program. “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.”
Nonprofit groups like the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), Girl Scouts of the USA, the American School Counselor Association, the Computer Science Teachers Association, and the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools have teamed up with Google to introduce Made With Code to girls in their networks. All were on hand, along with former first daughter Chelsea Clinton and actress/writer Mindy Kaling, at Google’s launch event for the program.
“I think coding is cool, but most girls don’t. Less than 1 percent of high school girls see computer science as part of their future,” said Kaling, citing an American Association of University Women study on women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) [PDF]. “Made With Code lets girls see coding not just as something they can do, but something they’d love to do.”
Earlier this month, Google revealed statistics about the makeup of its workforce, and the numbers showed that the company has work to do on the diversity front. While just 30 percent of its staff is female, a further breakdown shows that women make up just 17 percent of Google’s tech employees. And a recent International Business Times survey revealed that Google is far from the only Silicon Valley company to struggle with diversity.
“The numbers hurt: Women constitute more than half of the professional workforce, but only a quarter of [the] workforce in tech,” Lucy Sanders, CEO and cofounder of NCWIT, said in the Made With Code launch 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.”