Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
When Google launched their newest initiative Made with Code last week, they hit us with a shocking statistic: Less than 1% of high school girls consider majoring in computer science in college. We know that sounds bad, but what does it really mean? It means that as more of our lives are being moved online and behind the seemingly intimidating wall of technology, women aren’t choosing to be a part of it. Made with Code is Google’s effort to change those numbers. With a grant of fifty million over the next three years, Google is pushing for girls to get interested in technology by showing them that the things they love are all “made with code.”
The few years before I started college, I was constantly being pushed by family members to consider a major in computer science. But, my real love was writing and I went to school bent on getting a degree in magazine journalism. In my very first journalism class, I was introduced to the now famous New York Times’ Snowfall piece and immediately saw how technology could improve storytelling. I became obsessed with these multimedia-powered, graphically-enhanced articles. It became clear to me that if my goal was to tell a compelling story, then I should learn how to do this.
Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
Last semester I decided to pick up a computer science minor and took my first coding class. It was a little daunting, walking into a classroom full of men, but I couldn’t help feeling a burst of pride when I would spot other girls around the room. It ended up being one of my favorite classes, and I rarely procrastinated on completing my coding assignments (which any college kid will tell you is a true sign of enjoyment).
I won’t lie and say that coding isn’t difficult at times. It can be frustrating and confusing, and it can include sitting behind a computer for hours. But, it’s also so much more than that. Coding is problem solving. It’s creative. It’s collaborative, and it’s incredibly rewarding. I wholeheartedly echo Google’s cry that coding can help girls create the things they love, and I think Made with Code is an incredible way to break down the nerdy stereotypes associated with coding. When I walked into my first computer science class, the male teacher introduced us to our male teaching assistants, and I ended up sitting in a twenty-five-person coding lab that included only four girls, myself included.
Almost everyone I know who codes is male, and while I appreciate their help and support, I want more. I want to see more women as role models in technology, so that I won’t ever be in a computer science class, looking around at guys who have been coding since high school, and feel like I can’t do this. Even though it may seem intimidating, I encourage girls to listen to Made with Code mentor Limor Fried when she says, “It is a little hard to get started, but it’s hard to get started with anything...If it wasn’t frustrating, it wouldn’t be so wonderful when it works out.”