Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

Why We Need More Coding Schools Just for Women

What does a school for coding, web programming, and design just for women look like? Well I would imagine it looks a lot like other professional tech schools, but with more women professionals teaching classes and less of the “brogrammer culture” that often deters women from pursuing a career in the tech industry. It’s also hard to imagine because it doesn’t really exist, at least not in the United States.

The computer science field is growing and hungry for new minds to join the tech world. In fact, according to experts at Code.org, computing jobs are the number one source of new wages in the U.S. However, the number of graduating students, particularly women, in the computer science world is remarkably low. As Nitasha Tiku puts it, “if coding is the new lingua franca, literacy rates for girls are dropping.” The rate at which women are entering college with the intention to major in a computer science field is — maybe sit down for this — a very shocking 0.4 percent.

So, what’s going on with the alarmingly low number of women interested in coding and other tech fields? Many believe it’s due to a lack of exposure in K-12 schools as well as women feeling discouraged about trying to breach the heavily male-dominated field. Additionally, women who do enter the computer science field often end up switching majors/careers due to the culture, pay, and hours. With all of this in mind, more coding schools just for women could be a solution to this glaring lack of diversity in the tech world.

It pretty much goes without saying that education is a huge factor in getting more women to enter the tech world. As Arizona State University explains, the key to women’s power in the workforce is education, “by earning a college degree, students, especially women, are setting themselves up to achieve higher earning potential throughout their careers.” However, it’s also important to keep in that mind that without female mentors, instructors, and role models, who can girls trying to enter the tech world look up to and aspire to be? By creating a space available just for women to get an educational coding and programming experience, the tech world could start seeing some closure of the gender gap, meaning more diverse and fresh minds coming to the industry.

Of course there are other ways to open more doors for women in coding. Educational consultants work with teachers, administrators, and corporations to change what doesn’t seem to be working within school districts and universities. This means they have the capability of bringing attention to the gender gap found within the tech world and can propose a strategy to get more schools in the U.S. teaching coding and programming to female students, piquing interest early and encouraging them to seek a degree in computer science. However, keeping them there seems to be the greatest challenge, as studies show that women end up leaving the tech industry at twice the rate of men.

Which then brings us to the final point: The U.S. needs more coding and tech schools for women run by women if it wants to keep up with the demand of technical talent across the globe. Furthermore, as Anita Borg Institute points out, “leaders and managers must develop and foster workplace culture that enables them to develop and retain women in technical roles.” This means funding workshops, training programs, and the biggest factor of all — bridging the pay gap between women and men, especially in management roles.

Keeping women in this vital industry really isn’t that difficult. It’s ridiculous that women often feel excluded and unhappy with this industry because of the clear gender bias in regards to working conditions and overall culture. A coding school for women is just the beginning. Enlisting educational consultants, acknowledging more female talent and professionals, better working conditions, and reaching out specifically to female students can lead to more crucial diversity in the industry and lead to new innovations that will undoubtedly surprise the tech industry.