This Is Google's Big Plan To Close The Gender Gap In Tech

High school girls on computersReutersHigh school girls using computers

It’s no secret that women are often under-represented in the technology industry.

The most recent statistics from the National Center for Women And Information Technology report that women only made up 26% of the computing workforce in 2013.

Google believes part of this has to do with the fact that women aren’t getting into computer science at a young age.

According to the American Association of University Women, fewer than 1% of high school girls express interest in computer science.

Google wants to change that by launching its new initiative called Made With Code, which is designed to help girls pick up coding skills in high school. The company is working with several partners for the project, including Chelsea Clinton, Girls Inc., Girl Scouts of the USA, “The Office” star Mindy Kaling, MIT Media Lab, and more.

Part of the program will include introducing girls to projects based on Blocky, a web-based programming editor that requires users to build projects by dragging blocks together to build an app with no actual typing required. These Blocky-based projects could include things like putting together beats for a music track or designing bracelets through the 3-D printing platform Shapeways.

Google is also donating $US50 million to support various coding programs. For example, $US1 million of that allotment will be donated to a new program at CodeAcademy. Schools will earn $US125 worth of rewards from DonorsChoose.org, a crowdfunding platform for teachers that need to raise money to buy materials for their classrooms, whenever a female student completes a special CodeAcademy course.

So, each time a girl completes the course, she’ll be helping the school buy more technology like laptops and tablets for the classroom. Teachers can also earn $US500 if four girls complete the course.

Google is also collaborating with Girl Scouts of the USA to expose young girls to coding.

Smaller organisations have been trying to get women into the computer science field for years, but the backing of a major company such as Google could help boost the initiative. Girls Dev, for example, holds regular meetups to get women into the coding community.

Google and Yahoo both recently revealed their diversity numbers, showing that both companies are largely comprised of men. Only 30% of Google’s employees in the U.S. are female, while 37% of Yahoo’s global workforce are women.

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