You know America is starting to wake up to the importance of something when there is a segment on “The Today Show” about it. We were thrilled to see at the end of December that “Today” correspondent and women’s rights advocate Maria Shriver did a report on the importance of coding, particularly for women. Clearly, we already knew this at Skillcrush but it is nice to see that the mainstream media is picking up on it.
We are seeing more and more celebrities, politicians and computer science industry leaders increasing their calls for young people to become better-versed in the language of coding and computer programming, due to a projected shortage of 1 million workers in the field by 2020. ”Learning these skills isn’t just important for your future, it’s important for our country’s future,” said President Barack Obama in a video address in December. “If we want America to stay on the cutting edge, we need young Americans like you to master the tools and technology that will change the way we do just about everything.”
But in this “Today” show segment, which featured Code Montage and Girl Develop It founder Vanessa Hearst, the call to action for women, both young and old, to learn coding was the focus. Of those programming jobs in 2020, women are expected to make up less than half of that group. Shriver asked Hearst why would coding help a 45 year old women like herself: “One big reasonis just the financial flexibility you get by having programming skills. Another big reason is you can really do it from anywhere.”
However, the push for computer programming education is proceeding at a very slow rate. Only nine states recognize it as part of their school curriculum. That is why extra curricular groups that offer coding for youth, particularly girls, is so important. Reshma Saujani, founder of non-profit Girls Who Code, said, “You need to understand technology. You have to have the skill set.” Girls, even in today’s modern world, are still taught to think that computers and technology are more for boys and would make them less feminine if they participated. This is why we see such a gap when it comes to women in STEM.
Girls Who Code’s goal is to teach 1 million girls to code by 2020. Some of the Girls Who Code groups even get to present their ideas to real companies like Facebook. The segment featured the great Sheryl Sandberg weighing in on a teenage girl’s idea for an app. One girl in the program said, “I believe it is really important to fight the stereotypes,” she said. And so do we. It is for our future. Check out the great segment below.
This piece was authored by Meredith Lepore and is reprinted by permission.