17
Apr

Girls Who Code Works with Washington State on Comprehensive Legislation Aimed at Closing the Gender Gap in Tech

Governor Jay Inslee signs Girls Who Code’s HB 1577 “Concerning K-12 computer science education data”, the first-ever bill aimed at bringing more girls into computer science

Olympia, Washington (April 17, 2019) — Today, Governor Jay Inslee signed HB 1577, the country’s first-ever law designed specifically to attract girls in K-12 to, and retain them in, computer science. The legislation was introduced by Representative Lisa Callan and Senator Jesse Salomon, with co-sponsor Senator Lisa Wellman, Chair of the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee. It is the first major piece of legislation created based on recommendations from the Girls Who Code Policy Agenda.

“Tech jobs are among the fastest growing occupations in the U.S. economy, and are expected to grow by more than half a million by 2026,” said Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code. “By passing this legislation, the state is making sure that girls aren’t left out of Washington State’s nearly 18,000 open computing jobs—jobs that pay nearly twice the state’s median wage.”

In Washington State, girls currently make up less than a quarter of students taking computer science courses in K-12 schools. That number decreased in the 2017-2018 school year.

The bill aims to increase the number of girls participating in computer science by requiring schools districts to track and publicly report 1) the total number of computer science courses offered, and 2) the number and percentage of students who enrolled in a computer science program, disaggregated by gender, race and ethnicity, special education status, English learner status and eligibility for the free and reduced-price lunch program, among other categories.

“As a ‘woman who coded’ I am thrilled to see the attention our legislature is giving to assuring the future is open and available to all,” said Senator Lisa Z. Wellman, Chair, Early Learning & K-12 Education. “Assuring we’re reaching all students requires us to have the data on who is engaged with computer science. It will make a difference for young girls and students of color.”

“From my work in computer science, I know how important it is to ignite the interest in computers and coding early on,” said Rep. Lisa Callan. “HB 1577 will put the spotlight on participation and access rates in our schools across the state and is the first step to making sure girls, students of color, and every student has an opportunity to light that spark and has pathways to exciting, high paying computer science jobs.”

This legislation is the first in the country aimed at bringing more girls into computer science, with Girls Who Code working with other states to enact similar legislation following the release of the organization’s Policy Agency.

The Girls Who Code Policy Agenda include four (4) policy recommendations for lawmakers committed to closing the gender gap in tech, including recommendations to:

1) Track and Report Data on Computer Science Participation;
2) Expand Computer Science Courses to all Middle Schools;
3) Increase Exposure To Women And Other Underrepresented Minorities In Tech;
4) Fund Professional Development With A Focus On Gender Inclusion.

“Girls Who Code created a space for me in a field that, all my life, was male-dominated,” said Washington State-based Girls Who Code alumni Brenna Nieva. “It’s important to understand the severity of the gender gap is in our classrooms, so that we can take the first steps to fix it and bring more girls into the field.”

Girls Who Code is on track to close the gender-gap in entry-level tech jobs by 2027. The organization has served almost 185,000 girls since its founding in 2012. Half of girls served by Girls Who Code are from historically underrepresented groups in tech. Girls Who Code has nearly 30,000 college-aged alumni. Alumni of Girls Who Code programs are majoring in computer science and related fields at 15 times the national average.

HB 1577 was introduced by Representative Lisa Callan and co-sponsored by Representatives Monica Jurado Stonier, Mike Steele, Brandon Vick, Steve Bergquist, Tana Senn, Vandana Slatter, Bill Jenkin, Roger Goodman, Eric Pettigrew, Alex Ybarra, Tom Dent, Paul Harris, Gael Tarleton, Laurie Dolan, and Debra Lekanoff. The companion Senate bill, SB 5574, was introduced by Senator Salomon and co-sponsored by Senators: Barbara Bailey, Lisa Wellman, Maureen Walsh, Dean Takko, Steve Hobbs, Shelly Short, Judy Warnick, Mark Mullet, Karen Keiser, Sharon Brown, Randi Becker, Patty Kuderer, Joe Nguyen, and Claire Wilson.

For the full text of HB 1577 “Concerning K-12 computer science education data“ please visit: http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2019-20/Pdf/Bills/House%20Bills/1577-S.pdf

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ABOUT GIRLS WHO CODE
Girls Who Code is an international non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology and change the image of what a programmer looks like and does. With their 7-week Summer Immersion Program, a 2-week specialized Campus Program, after school Clubs, and College Loops program, they are leading the movement to inspire, educate, and equip young women with the computing skills to pursue 21st-century opportunities. Girls Who Code has reached 185,000 girls to date through its programs and 100 million people through campaigns, advocacy work, and New York Times best-selling series. To join the movement or learn more, visit girlswhocode.com.

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