Although Katie Meyer, 19, has considered a career in technology, she isn’t sure it’s in the cards for her. Three years ago, when she was 16, her mother enrolled her in a coding camp for girls. “They made it really friendly for people that age, so it was really easy to learn,” Meyer says. “We just sat down and started learning HTML and CSS.” She decided to pursue coding, so she took a course at her high school. It didn’t go as well. “It was hell on earth! Like, it was awful.” She felt out of her element, and couldn’t quite catch up to the rest of her classmates. She says it didn’t help that she was one of only two girls in that class. “All the guys knew exactly what they were doing.” Meyer, a history buff, ended up dropping that course and hasn’t pursued coding since. Stories like hers are playing out across the country. According to consulting firm McKinsey & Company, men vastly outnumber women in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Only 28 per cent of STEM graduates are women, and only 23 per cent of people working in high-paying STEM industries are women. Industry leaders are trying to improve those statistics and say the best way to get more women into tech is to change the conversation around what tech is — and what it’s not. Andrea Stairs, managing director of eBay Canada, spends a lot of time thinking about how to increase the ranks of women in her field. “I don’t think tech is a particularly friendly environment for women and I think we see that over and over again. It’s depressing,” Stairs says. Cast wider nets: Ebay has made a commitment to tracking diversity within the company, which employs 12,600 people globally. The last snapshot is from 2016 and it shows that women make up 22 per cent of its tech workforce. Read the rest of the story here
Today, the White House announced a $200 million per year commitment to computer science education in America’s schools. Unlike similar proposals in previous years, today’s action delivers funding to schools, immediately. Besides expanding access to computer science in schools that previously didn’t teach it, the funds promise to increase participation by women and underrepresented minorities. This funding will jumpstart efforts to ensure every student in every school has the opportunity to learn computer science as part of a well-rounded education. For advocates of increased access and diversity in CS, this is the culmination of years of momentum that began in classrooms, spread to entire school districts, and won the support of business leaders and elected officials globally. At a time when computing careers are the best-paying, fastest-growing, and largest sector of new wages, impacting every industry in every state, it is no longer acceptable for our schools to limit access to this foundational subject. Our children deserve a level playing field — the opportunity to learn computer science shouldn’t be limited by the color of a student’s skin or the neighborhood she lives in. The UK, Japan, Ireland, and a dozen other countries have announced plans to add computer science to their school curriculum. It is unacceptable for the U.S. to lag behind. The country that invented the personal computer, the Internet, and the smartphone should also lead in computer science. And today, America leads in computer science, thanks to countless supporters of this cause, starting with you: parents, students, and teachers, as well as partner organizations and local governments. Whether you signed a petition on Code.org or used our courses in your classroom, you’ve helped build a grassroots movement that is changing education, globally. The division in our country hurts us all. Amidst the politics, America’s students represent our hope. We all want opportunity for our children, and there’s no better way to offer them opportunity than to prepare them for the careers of the future. This movement has supporters across the political spectrum, whether in urban, suburban, or rural communities. 90% of parents support computer science in schools. Americans may be divided by our politics, but we’re united by our dedication to our children. We all believe in opportunity and the American Dream. Code.org has never endorsed any candidate, politician, or political party. We’ve worked closely with presidents and governors from both parties, and with international prime ministers, to advocate for opportunity. Like many others, we’re appalled by the divisiveness in today’s politics, at a time when we need collaborative solutions to the world’s problems. Given our education focus, we’re dismayed by proposed cuts to education budgets. And given our mission and focus on diversity, we unequivocally denounce the tone of racism that has entered the political sphere. Today we have a chance to set aside politics and come together, to support opportunity for all our youth, and to build our nation’s future. For those of us who have spent years working to spread computer science, today’s announcement marks a new beginning — it’s a new opportunity for every school to expand its computer science offerings. This work is only just beginning, and the job won’t be done until every state and school district in America steps up to teach high-quality computer science. To the 600,000 Code.org teachers who have helped make computer science the fastest-spreading subject in modern education, I want to thank you for your passion. And I encourage every educator to consider joining the computer science movement. Your students are our future. Whether you teach your students to add and subtract, to read and write, or to code, yours is the most important job in the world. Today marks a special moment for every parent, student, teacher, or partner organization who believes in our mission, that every student in every school deserves the opportunity to learn computer science. To all of you who have supported Code.org, today’s announcement is about something bigger than any politician or political agenda: it’s about our children and their future, and it’s about you, and the strength of our global movement for students. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Hadi Partovi, Code.org (read the original here)
When he was 14 years old, Lawrence Birnbaum taught himself how to program, but he had trouble even finding a computer to work on. Still, he knew computers were going to be the future. That was in the late 1960s. When Birnbaum — today a computer science professor at Northwestern — was in college, there were relatively few computer science majors, and his professors had graduated from schools of math or electrical engineering. The field was still new. Fast forward to now. New computer science graduates often have their pick of opportunities as recruiters struggle to fill positions in the industry. The big question is: Why? Are too few students majoring in fields with the best employment and growth potential? First of all, it’s clear that computer science is a good career bet. According to a new study by CareerCast.com, jobs in computer science for roles like data scientists and software engineers show the best growth potential in the next seven years. Healthcare is another big area for career growth, the study found. Statistics from rjmetrics.com show were about 11,400 and 19,400 data scientists worldwide in 2015, 52% of of whom earned that position in the last six years. On LinkedIn this month, there were 8,916 open positions for data scientists, 72,800 open positions for software engineers and 74,900 open positions for physical therapists. Just last June, two computing organizations published an open letter announcing there were 500,000 open computer positions in every sector such as manufacturing or banking — but only 50,000 computer science graduates a year. And according to Computer Science Zone, there will be 1 million more computing jobs than employees to fill them in the next 10 years.
“I think the demand is because there is so much that can be done right now. This is a field which has been in a revolutionary state almost since its inception,” Birnbaum said.
So, where are all the computer science majors to fill those jobs? They’re there — they just haven’t graduated yet. “It takes a while to get people through the pipeline,” said Birnbaum, who in addition to his teaching duties is a co-founder of a tech company, Narrative Science. “Once people decide they want to do this, it still is going to take a while to have the supply catch up. We’re getting there, and it is going to continue to improve.” In 2016, 16,870 students graduated with a major in computer science and 26,200 students graduated in computer information systems, according to College Factual. And across the country, computer programs are growing: Introductory classes at Northwestern have increased from 40 students to over 400, and the university plans to increase the number of faculty members by 20 in the next five years. At the University of Washington, according to GeekWire.com, Microsoft, Amazon, Zillow and other companies recently Google made donations to fund a $90 million engineering and computer science building. At U.C. Berkeley, one of the top ranked universities for computer science majors, the number of undergraduates in the electrical engineering and computer science program has increased from 1,133 students to 2,546. Computer science majors increased by 95% from 2011 to 2015, according to Fortune.
“Every university in the country has seen a tremendous explosion of student demand for computer science,” Birnbaum said. John Scholz, a professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison, said there could be other reasons that some openings are tough to fill, such as starting salaries. “I don’t really ascribe that there is a growth mismatch between the skills that students are graduating with and the needs of the labor market,” Scholz told USA TODAY College. “These are markets. Take computer scientists, there is a market. If there is a scarcity, the demand exceeds the supply. Computer scientists wages adjust, and the market clears.” Jobs in the tech and health care industry are in demand right now because the industries are growing and expanding, confirmed Vicki Salemi, a career expert for Monster. Many job candidates can and do receive multiple job offers, and it is up to companies to offer competitive packages as well as incentives for employees to stay, she said. “There are hard-to-fill jobs. There is a labor shortage,” Salemi told USA TODAY College. “The demand to hire data scientists and software engineers and healthcare is particularly high right now. There is not enough qualified people to fill them, which is good for people who are really qualified. They’ll probably get multiple job offers.” (source)