Your Daughter Can Build Apps, Not Just Use Them
Has your high school student ever created a smartphone app? How about built a website from scratch? These tasks are very doable for teenagers, yet our college-bound students are reporting abysmal numbers on their exposure to computer programming — just over 20 percent for students who took the SAT in 2013.
The numbers seem even more dire when you look at our Advanced Placement exam-takers, strong indicators of what students will study in their college coursework. In 2013, only 1 percent of Advanced Placement exam-takers took a computer science AP exam. And only 19 percent of those were girls, according to an analysis by the National Center for Women and Information Technology. What does all this mean?
In our increasingly technology-based economy, most of our high school students aren’t getting experience in computer programming, and even fewer intend to major in it. Computer programming and software development are profitable and significant career options, but our girls just aren’t considering them. One problem is that women aren’t finding the technology workplace to be safe, comfortable, or sustainable. Another is that we aren’t showing them that these options are interesting, world-changing, or that they even exist.
Do children who love video games but can’t sit through math class even realize that they can make their own games? What about the students who are too shy for debate club or not interested in sports? Would a robotics club give them an outlet for competition?
You can help with a contribution to our STEM camp program, Tech Trek.
It’s an issue for boys and girls, but the little that has been done to encourage more kids to learn computing skills isn’t translating as well for girls in the long run. Only 30 percent of people in mathematical and computer science occupations are women, according to AAUW’s 2010 research report Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
We’ve said before that the foundation for a technology career is laid early in life, so we have encouraged our followers to buy girls toys that defy the stereotypes. We’ve also talked about how successful women role models help girls counter negative stereotypes, which is why AAUW members have created an array of STEM programming where girls can meet and learn from women in STEM fields. But if we want to change the way girls are viewing technology careers, we’ll have to show them in school. And not just in the schools that can afford the best computers.