After analyzing its own gender problem, Google launches code initiative to expose young girls to coding

coding-Google-girlsUsually when someone visualizes coding, they think of a male doing it — a la the movie “Social Network.” Rarely does a woman’s face pop up in one’s imagination when thinking of a computer scientist.

When Google recently looked at their company’s composition and realized that women only accounted for 17 percent of its tech employees, they wondered why. After much research, Google then decided to create an initiative called “Made with Code” to attempt to balance the gender scale.

With less than one percent of female high school students interested in computer science, Google researchers found that exposure at a young age is key to sparking an interest in the subject. Made with Code was created to teach young girls that no matter what their passion or dream career is, knowing how to code can be beneficial. Here are five takeaways from Google’s newest campaign.

Made with Code:

 

(Next page: 5 need-to-knows about the initiative)

1. Google is not acting alone

Google isn’t enlightening girls about the world of coding all by themselves. In fact, they are joining a plethora of people and organizations to launch Made with Code.

Some of their partners include celebrities like Chelsea Clinton and Mindy Kaling. “Right now, our voices aren’t being heard,” Clinton said at the initiative’s launch event on June 19.

The Girl Scouts of the USA, Girls Inc., Girls Who Code, the National Center for Women and Information Technology, and more, have also decided to join Google on their mission to increase coding interest in young girls, due in part to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics projection that there will be 4.2 million jobs in the computer science field by 2020; these organizations hope that girls make up half of them.

Plans for Google to work with the Science and Entertainment Exchange are in the works, so that girls can see more female engineer characters portrayed on television. With people onscreen to look up to, girls may feel more comfortable about the idea of majoring in computer science.

2. Google is backing it up with $$$

Since 2010, Google has invested about $40 million in organizations like Code.org, which provides students with a free “Hour of Code” to learn about the science, and Girls Who Code, a two-year-old nonprofit which is dedicated to closing the gender gap in the technology sphere . Following their announcement about Made with Code, Google declared that in the next three years, they will be donating $50 million to support programs that will increase gender diversity in the field of computer sciences.

One project they plan on piloting will reward teachers that support young female students who take computer science courses on online learning websites such as Codecademy or Khan Academy.

3. There’s an inspirational video series

Made With Code’s website has many features, including a video section featuring female role models who are involved in the tech industry, sometimes in unconventional ways. All of the featured women exude confidence, rely on creativity and have passion for what they do.

For example there’s Miral Kotb, a woman who loves to dance but also has an “affinity for writing code.” A few years ago, she combined her two passions to create iLuminate, a dance show featured on Off-Broadway and America’s Got Talent that incorporates wireless lighting technology to tell a unique story:

 

And then there’s Ayah Bdeir, an interactive artist and engineer, who founded littleBits, or blocks that allow people with little programming experience to create interactive gadgets:

 

After viewing these vibrant videos, girls may be able to realize that coding can be incorporated into their unique passions and hobbies in ways they never imagined—that things they love are “made with code.”

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4. They have coding lessons

Made With Code includes a selection of coding projects made specifically for young women who do not have prior coding experience in mind. “Suspend your disbelief and let’s get cracking,” the website beckons its users. Girls can go on missions, create their own avatars or accessorize self-portraits while learning how to code.

Once users select a lesson, they read about what they are going to make and how they are going to make it. The website uses Blockly programming language and provides users with a template to drag and drop various coding blocks onto their workspace. Hints are easily accessible for those who are struggling, and previews are available for those who are eager to see what their finished product will look like.

Users can also create a bracelet online that can be 3D-printed for a limited time only by the company Shapeways for free. The bracelet designs, colors and writing can vary, depending on what the coder has in mind.

5. Their overall message

At the top of Made With Code’s website is a video that sums up what the initiative was created for. Here’s one quote from the film that really encapsulates the message that Google and its partners want every young girl (and boy, for that matter) to take away:  “When you learn to code, you can assemble anything that you see missing. And in doing so, you will fix something, or change something, or invent something, or run something … and maybe that’s how you will play your bit in this world.”

Watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bo11JJgj1cU


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