According to a new report from Accenture and Girls Who Code, the number of women in the US computing workforce will drop from 24% to 22% by 2025 if there is no intervention by tech leaders and others. In an article for TechRepublic, Allison DeNisco says this could change if tech companies start reaching out to school-age women. What’s setting progress back and expanding the gender gap is the one-size-fits-all approach focus on universal access to computer science for boys and girls.
Outreach Must Be Targeted
It is deep-rooted in our minds that computing is a male-dominated field. Rather than simply uncovering these stereotypes and revealing them to girls, which is deterring them, we must make efforts to “tailor engagement with girls to suit the changing influences on their attitudes and preferences as they proceed through their education,” according to Paul Daugherty, CTO of Accenture.
With an increase to 40% from 25% a year ago for schools offering computer science (CS) classes with programming and coding, the fact is girls are still less likely than boys to report being told by their parents or teachers that they would be good at CS. Furthermore, girls are not as likely to be informed of CS learning opportunities outside of school, and boys are nearly twice as likely as girls to see someone of their gender doing CS in the media.
Where is the silver lining? This comes from tech companies, teachers, and parents intervening and encouraging girls to pursue a computer science education. This could possibly yield a growth of 39% in the same time frame, rather than a decrease. Women’s cumulative earnings would also be increased by $299 billion.
Seventy-four percent of women in computing careers report first being exposed to it in middle school. From middle to high school girls stop taking CS courses due to the lack of peers doing so. So offering it up in middle school and driving home that opportunity is imperative. Girls are majorly influenced by role models, and teachers and tech companies are a great example of where these role models can come from. The girls needs encouragement. Research shows that a lack of role models is one of the main factors that discourages girls form pursuing tech careers, as only 37% of girls from ages 10-17 know of someone with an IT job.
Going even further into awareness: Girls do not know what opportunities await them in this field, and research reports that if the girls would be made known of career options it would encourage them to pursue an IT role. “Once girls learn what is available, their interest is just as piqued as the boys,” said Carolyn April, senior director of industry research at CompTIA.
Tech leaders can really make a difference and play a vital role in sparking and maintaining female student interest in computing careers. You can access the original article here: http://www.techrepublic.com/article/techs-gender-gap-is-getting-worse-not-better-report-says/