Technology and the Gender Gap: Strategies to Inspire Young Women to Explore STEM

On the fourth episode of Opportunity Thrives, we take a closer look at technology and the gender gap. We discuss the challenges of  engaging more females in computer science and some of the strategies that can be implemented to inspire these young learners to explore computer science and technology courses and pursue careers in these fields.

  • Nine out of ten parents want their child to study computer science, but only 45% of schools teach computer programming.
  • Computing makes up two-thirds of projected new jobs in STEM.
  • Computing occupations are among the highest-paying jobs for new graduates. Yet fewer than 3% of college students graduate with a degree in computer science, and only 10% of STEM graduates are in computer science. A computer science major can earn 40 percent more than the college average.
  • Schools are not required to offer computer science in 32 states.
  • Only 29 percent of AP Computer Science students are women. Only 22% are Black/African American or Latinx.
  • Women who try AP Computer Science in high school are ten times more likely to major in it, and Black and Latinx students are seven times more likely.

Sabine Thomas, the Northwest regional manager for Code.org, a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools and increasing participation by women and underrepresented minorities shares her insights on the show. The vision of Code.org is to provide every student in every school with the opportunity to learn computer science, just as easily as they have the chance to learn biology, chemistry or algebra. Sabine is passionate about Computer Science and Software Development and supports the organization by establishing organizational partnerships throughout the Northwest. 

Misty Christensen, a business education and AP computer science instructor at Dunwoody High School in the Dekalb County School System in Dunwoody, Georgia also joined us for the episode. After pursuing her teaching degree, she was so inspired by the computing classes she was teaching that she went back to school to get her degree in business education. Within her district, she supports Girls Who Code, the Robotics club, First Robotics Competition, and the Technology Student Association to help inspire both young men and women to pursue careers in computing. 


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