21 March 2023. Like many other technology and STEM-related careers, coding careers are currently dominated by men. From a young age, boys are encouraged to learn how to code, use it to build things like video games and robots, and then pursue it through college and beyond. While it isn't uncommon for young women to take up coding, especially in the current digital age, the same level of encouragement doesn't exist for them.
Statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that women account for only 26.7 percent of employees working in math and computer science-related jobs. The numbers are lower for more specialized careers that involve coding:
- 18% of employed information security analysts are women
- 22.1% of employed computer programmers are women
- 21.5% of employed software developers are women
- 21.9% of employed web developers are women
Throughout history, women have been at the forefront of scientific and technological breakthroughs. Even in the field of coding and computer programming itself, Ada Lovelace is hailed as an early pioneer of modern computer technology. The Ada programming language is even named after her! So why is coding still not as inclusive as other STEM fields have become? Slowly but surely, progress is being made towards turning the numbers in favor of women coders.
Coding education is becoming more widely available to students of all genders around the world, and more programs are being created for kids to start learning early. Fiero Code is a self-paced, learn-to-code program geared towards kids ages 8-18. Serving as an introduction to programming languages and their uses, Fiero Code engages young learners in fun games and activities as they build the coding skills necessary to design their own websites, video games, apps and more. It's a great way to start interested girls and young women on the path to a bright future in a coding career.
Fiero Code founder Luke Miller says: "I wonder what problems in the world, and there are many, will never get solved if women continue to be excluded from tech. We can't just leave those latent solutions sitting on the table!"
In addition, Girls Who Code is a global organization devoted to closing the gender gap in computer science and technology careers. They work across the globe to bring awareness to the benefits of coding education and how important it is for girls and young women to learn coding skills. Founded in 2012, Girls Who Code runs programs designed to teach girls and women how to code and become change agents in their communities.
Code.org also supports providing coding education to girls, as they report that 45 percent of the students they serve are female. They also report that young women who take computer science classes in high school are 10 times more likely to pursue it as a major in college.
Finally, influential celebrities and public figures are speaking out about the importance of coding education for girls. Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, believes that "Every girl deserves to take part in creating the technology that will change our world, and change who runs it."
So how can you help girls and young women in your community? Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Offer Fiero Code to students in your library!
- Host a coding club or event just for girls. Creating opportunities for them to learn how to code and connect with other girls who are interested in coding will help them build friendships as well as the skills they can use to pursue a career in computer programming.
- Collaborate with history teachers at your school or women in your community who work in computer science or technology to create a lesson plan or discussion session about women in coding careers.
- Provide resources and books for girls and young women to read about the benefits of coding, coding careers, and women past and present who work in coding careers.
The most important thing that libraries can do is provide a safe and engaging space in which girls and young women in your community can feel comfortable exploring their interests. Giving them ample opportunities to learn to code and making sure they know they will always have those opportunities at the library is the best way to encourage them to develop and pursue their interests. Coding is for everyone! Make sure to remind the girls and young women in your community of that.
Provide the girls and young women in your library with a head start in coding education by adding Fiero Code to your school or library's collection of e-learning resources.