It’s been widely recognized that female coders are a minority in the tech space, and that there is a significant gender gap when it comes to careers and advancement in computer science industries. However, more and more companies are encouraging women to step in, and why shouldn’t they? In a recent article in Inc, Aaron Skonnard pointed out that “Coding is the number-one skill in demand today worldwide. Although coding and computer science are still marginalized in the K-12 education system, it’s clear that the ability to code has become as important as other basic forms of literacy like reading and math.” Because coding skills are in such high demand, many organizations are seeing the benefits of encouraging women to join this huge space since they need women who code to help fill some of these lucrative positions. Coding is such a crucial skill that learning it guarantees a lucrative job and plenty of opportunity.
It’s apparent that coding is a skill that is somewhat neglected within traditional educational, but the more modern educational systems such as Experience America are encouraging youth to get into coding. Their unique and informative Game Experience is especially encouraging girls straight out of high school to code and pursue a tech career. To help encourage young women to explore a career in the thriving tech industry, Experience America’s founders have organized free events where interested students can talk to successful women in tech. In the past, these women have been from Pop Cap Games, Microsoft, and other top tech companies. They have helped inspire young women by describing their experiences, struggles and successes working in game development and tech.
Successful women in tech also act as mentors during Experience America’s game camps. The founders even go so far as to arrange for previous female students who attended the game camp to visit current students and explain how the camp positively impacted their career path. Hearing from these female role models is both motivating and reassuring for current students.
Motivating events and organizations like these are essential in helping young women to feel accepted and supported in this male-dominated industry. Through this kind of direct exposure and mentoring, females interested in tech and coding get the kind of encouragement and sense of community that high schools usually fail to provide. Perhaps young women would be more likely to explore a computer science career if high schools at least touched on it. If more high school girls were encouraged by authority figures, they wouldn’t feel so isolated if they chose to pursue coding or a high-tech career.
Women Who Code is an organization that inspires women to excel in the field of tech. They point out that tech is one of the fastest growing job sectors in the world economy, and it is projected to grow exponentially. Tech careers pay extremely well with a median income that is 56% higher than other jobs.
It’s no secret that high-tech jobs pay well, and it’s no surprise that more and more young women are becoming interested in the field. Organizations like Women Who Code help get young women interested, but that interest should be encouraged earlier, in high school, so that today’s youth can get a jump on their career. Experience America is targeting high school students entering their final year, so that the interest in tech can be encouraged and supported early on. They organize comprehensive camps that allow any interested student to get a full exposure to what a career in gaming or tech would look like. They’ll get to take part in interactive company tours at some of the top tech companies and converse with successful executives so that they can imagine what this career path would be like.
Jesse Aujla, co-founder of Experience America explains: “There is a growing demand for women in tech businesses as industry leaders are recognizing that diversity adds value -especially since females often connect to the customer on a deeper level. As a society, we need to show how creative and fulfilling solving the world’s problems through technology is. We are trying to do our part by offering selected ambitious young women full scholarships to our Game Experience camp.”
Alaina Percival, the woman who runs Women Who Code had her own struggles when it came to being motivated to pursue a career in tech. In a Cosmopolitan interview she explained “I was always more extraordinary in science and math than my other academics, but I was never pushed to go in that direction.Even when I had a full academic scholarship to attend any university in Georgia, I didn’t even think to apply to Georgia Tech, where my father went. I think it’s really sad, and it’s a reason why we need to remind women and girls that technology is a great career.” Today, she’s blown away by the success of Women Who Code and the rise of female leaders in the tech space. At Women Who Code events, representatives from top tech companies are present to encourage female applicants. These companies include Yelp, Google, Facebook, Etsy, Capital One, Dropbox, Square, Nike and many more.
Household names such as Nike are consistently hiring for advanced digital positions. Some of the best careers available today are open to those who learn to code. Luckily, companies like Experience America are around to support high school students who want to pursue this dynamic and lucrative career path. Get it, girl.
Erica Gordon is the author of Aren’t You Glad You Read This? The Complete How-To Guide for Singles with a History of Failed Relationships Who Want their Next Relationship to Succeed, available here.