Jul 13, 2014 02:36 AM EDT
Women are minimally represented in the world of computer sciences these days.
According to Associated Press, computer science is one of the fastest-growing fields in the country. By 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the field will produce 4.2 million jobs. Still, less than 1 percent of high school girls consider entering the field.
In 2013, 30,000 students took the Advance Placement computer science test, and only 20 percent of the tests were taken by girls, according to the College Board. Potentially even more concerning: not a single test was taken by girls from Mississippi, Montana or Wyoming.
"We live in a culture where we're dissuaded to do things that are technical," Diana Navarro, an 18-year-old computer science major at Rutgers University, told AP. "Younger girls see men, not women, doing all the techie stuff, programming and computer science."
AP reports that females represented 37 percent of those working in computer sciences in the 1980s, but the number has shrunk to 18 percent today.
On Thursday, Google launched its Made With Code program with attendance from about 150 New York female high schoolers. The $50 million project aims to bring women into coding.
"Our industry has lots of stereotypes, including the notion that coding means sitting at a computer alone," Google Vice President Megan Smith said, according to USA Today. "We hope to show girls that coding is fun, but there's also the simple fact that supply and demand is not working. There are millions of jobs out there going begging."
Lucy Sanders, CEO of the National Center for Women & Information Technology advocacy group, approves of the initiative.
"It used to be that as a computing community we didn't really talk about gender issues, but now we're really pulling together, from corporations and startups to nonprofits and universities," she told AP. "I'm very optimistic."
Google conducted a study on the subject and told AP that the lack of female participation is due to the fact that girls do not have enough access to computer sciences and technology.
"I think young women don't even realize computer sciences are an option," said Dez White, who works for Goinvis hiring coders. "It's not laid out like nursing and social work."
Follow Scharon Harding on Twitter: @ScharHar.
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