Today, the number of girls in programming is abysmally low, a gender disparity that starts as early as in high school. A recent National Public Radio report showed that 20 percent of all programmers are female, directly matching College Board’s data that 20 percent of AP Computer Science students are female. This issue is very apparent at PHS. In both my Algorithms and Data Structures and my Java classes, there is only one other girl present besides myself. By not learning how to code, girls are putting themselves at a bigger disadvantage than they think.
It is commonly known that studying Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math fields are practical ways to get a high paying job—which is true—but not everyone realizes that, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor, over 70 percent of STEM careers in the next decade will involve computing. If studying computers leads to high paying careers, then how can we expect to close the wage gap if girls do not learn programming?
However, having a diversity of people who can program is important for more than achieving equal pay. Since computers are such a great part of our lives, programmers have the ability to solve all sorts of problems—be it a smaller problem like having to check PowerSchool or a larger problem like keeping in touch with friends. Leaving such an amazing power in the hands of one gender leads to products marketed specifically for men. One example that people are all too familiar with is the sexualization of women in video games. A more equal representation of women in programming will not only lead to less offensive products, but it can also lead to products that aim to solve problems that are common to women.
So, to all the girls out there, consider taking Python next year or learning some programming over the summer. It can allow you to make more money and help ameliorate problems caused by gender disparity. Unlocking the power of women is integral to the success of any developed society. As coding becomes a larger part of our economy, girls must be encouraged and allowed to participate.