Monday, January 20, 2014

Getting Girls Interested in Computer Science

Photo by Wolfgang Lonien Used With Permission
Under a Creative Commons License Agreement
Have you heard? By the year 2020, there's going to be one million more computer science jobs in the United States than there will be people to fill them. That's bad news on many levels, including for our economy, because businesses will be forced to look overseas for employees to meet the need. Thousands upon thousands of capable Americans, many of them recent college graduates, may be looking in vain for employment in other sectors and finding fewer opportunities. NOW is the time to help the young people we serve see the opportunities available to them if they choose to pursue computer science as their career field.

Appeal to Girls!

As we work to encourage students toward courses of study that will lead them toward top paying careers, it's important that we think about groups who are under-represented in the computer science field. Women fall into this category, as demonstrated by the fact that boys outnumbered girls 4 to 1 in taking the AP computer science test in 2013, even though girls outnumbered boys in the overall number of all subject area AP exams taken.

There are numerous ways to make the study of computer science more appealing to girls. In a brief 20 minute webinar sponsored by the TCEA TA/CS SIG on January 9, 2014, my colleague Kim Garcia presented important tips for getting girls interested in computer science. Kim studied computer science in college and is a former high school computer science teacher. Her passion and depth of knowledge on this topic shows through wonderfully in her webinar. The slides from her webinar are posted below, but I highly recommend that you view the webinar recording to get the full benefit of the information presented.

One More Resource

For anyone who feels compelled to help educate students about the opportunities offered by careers in the computer science field, this video made in conjunction with the recent Computer Science Education Week Hour of Code initiative provides a compelling presentation from a wide variety of professionals - men and women of multiple ethnicities and backgrounds - who paint an enticing picture of an industry that has many more facets, and is interwoven into more aspects of our lives, than we realize.

All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.