Here’s some shocking news: despite the 74 percent of girls age 11-15 expressing an interest in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math), only 0.4 percent choose to major in computer science. That’s less than one HALF of a percent! This past year, I have been awakened to the humongous gender gap in this exponentially growing field.
In this day and age, learning the language of computer science (CS) is as important as learning how to communicate in your English classes. An influx of women in computer science will close the gender parity and to set an example for the future generations. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million new computer science jobs, and Code.org reports job growth at a pace two times the national average.
If that doesn’t convince you of the bevy of opportunities awaiting girls interested in CS, note that while there are over a million new jobs on the horizon, the Bureau of Labor Statistics currently reports a mere 400,000 computer science students. Here are some tips that I’ve gathered from professionals in the field for those of you who are interested in exploring the world of CS (even if it’s just a tiny spark inside of you):
- When taking your first CS class, make sure you give it a real chance. For those of you who are just starting out, your first computer science class may not be so easy. It is essentially learning a whole new language, and figuring out how to use it takes time. Make sure that you give yourself a real chance to discover it by taking a lighter course load the semester you try it out so that you have time to dedicate to learning it well.
- Persevere. Coding DOES get easier. All the effort you spend in the beginning will pay off later. You learn from the common mistakes and not only can you stop yourself from making them, but help someone else when they are stuck.
- Take a class about the hardware side of tech/engineering. While learning to code is absolutely essential, the hardware aspect of it is just as important. There is going to be a hardware revolution – in fact, it’s already started. By 2525, there will be 100+ companies that are the equivalent of what an apple company does now and all of them will need women engineers.
- There are three types of classes you need to take: computer science (soft/hardware based classes), design, and business. Design (which includes User Interface and User Experience) is important so that you are able to better understand what you need to code. You would no longer need to wait around for someone telling you how to code, but you can do both the designing and coding for a perfect product. You need to take business classes so that you can strive to be an entrepreneur at the head of your company.