According to Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, women made up 37% of all computer science graduates in 1984. Today, that same figure is less than 18%.
With 1.4 million STEM jobs opening in the next 20 years and a significant talent shortage, employers are hard pressed to find enough candidates to meet the demand for high-skill tech jobs — and it’s alarming to learn that 30 years on, fewer women are entering the field. Employers today need to attract many different kinds of people to technical positions. Why aren’t more women filling these roles? That’s the question at the center of Reshma’s quest to teach young women to code.
To learn more about what employers can do about this gender gap, we invited her to speak at Indeed Interactive this past May. At the conference, she talked with talent professionals about what her team is focused on. Here are two big ideas she shared:
“We need to engage and encourage our young women to fill the gaps in tech talent.”
In her keynote address, Reshma explained that one reason few women enter the tech profession is that they’ve been discouraged from pursuing that kind of job. The current tech landscape is dominated by men, and young women may struggle to see themselves in those roles.
To teach women the skills they’ll need, Reshma wants to start early — encouraging girls to develop the tech expertise and advising young women on how they can use tech skills to tackle problems that matter to them. Girls Who Code not only provides young women with the skills they need to succeed in that kind of profession, but also introduces them to technologists and mentors of all kinds so they can see the diversity that’s possible.
“As we are becoming more technologically savvy, we’re pushing women out,” Reshma said. “It matters because 71% of all these STEM jobs are in computer science, and women are not filling those jobs. This is a huge problem from an economic perspective.”
She spoke about the implications of the talent shortage on today’s labor market and how we can grow the supply of high-skill workers for the future, citing that only 3% of the 1.4 million computing jobs will be filled by women at the current rate they are entering the tech profession.
“We’re building this movement together and it’s only possible because the companies in this country and across the world have signed up.”
Girls Who Code is supported by a network of employers who see the power this movement holds. All over the country, we see rising interest in technical jobs from candidates. But that interest is still not at a high enough level to meet employer demand. To bring in great talent, employers need to develop it. Fostering diversity in that talent pool is one way to attract more people to a field that they might not have considered before.
Part of Reshma’s vision is encouraging employers and entrepreneurs to invest in young women as a previously untapped source of talent. As she’s said in previous interviews, “We don’t even know what the world would look like if we gave girls the power of technology’’ — suggesting that increased diversity only enhances the innovative potential of any team.
Learn more about the guest speakers and session topics shared at Indeed Interactive 2015 and sign up to get updates about next year’s conference.