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Gender Gap in Computer Coding the Focus of $50 Million Google Donation

Cross-posted from the Curriculum Matters blog.

Google announced recently it was putting $50 million into an initiative aimed at closing the gender gap in computer coding.

As our friends over at Curriculum Matters have written, females are underrepresented in computer-science courses and careers. Just 20 percent of students who took the Advanced Placement computer-science exam in 2013 were female, and no girls took the test in Mississippi or Montana. Less than 1 percent of girls in high school anticipate going into computer science, reports the Associated Press. And the gender gap among those pursuing computer-science degrees has widened significantly over the last decade, one study found.

In addition, Google released its own workforce demographics recently, which showed that only 17 percent of its technology employees were women. 

Through its new initiative, called Made With Code, Google will collaborate with organizations such as the Girls Scouts of the USA and Girls, Inc. to encourage girls to start coding. It created a website with project ideas, profiles of diverse women who code in their jobs, and resources on coding camps, classes, and clubs.

Over the next three years, Google also plans to put $50 million toward programs with the same mission of promoting gender diversity among coders, including Code.orgGirls Who Code, and Black Girls Code. Google will also, for example, work with DonorsChoose.org to reward teachers who encourage girls to take online computer-science courses. 

At a glitzy launch event for the initiative in New York City, Chelsea Clinton, comedian Mindy Kaling, and female Swedish DJs Icona Pop entertained a crowd of 150 girls.

"You're at the front lines of helping to change [things]," Clinton told the audience, according to Slate.com. "We do need to build a movement, and I'm sorry if there's a lot of pressure on you, but candidly there is a lot of pressure on you, because only if you participate in helping to build a future in which you're coding and you're imagining and you're doing, will all of us benefit."

Follow @BenjaminBHerold and @EdWeekEdTech for the latest news on ed-tech policies, practices, and trends. 


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