10
Jul

Girls Who Code Hosts Congressional Leadership To Discuss Innovative Policy Solutions To The Gender Gap In Tech

Sen. Jacky Rosen, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley join Girls Who Code founder and CEO Reshma Saujani and moderator Tiffany Cross following the release of the organization’s groundbreaking report on the gender gap in K-12 computer science

Washington D.C. (July 10, 2019) — Girls Who Code, the nonprofit leading efforts to close the gender gap in tech today convened a bipartisan panel with female Congressional leadership to discuss policy solutions to bring more girls into computer science. The panel follows the release of a report by Girls Who Code, indicating that existing efforts to close the gender gap have not made progress on the issue.

The bipartisan panel featured Sen. Jacky Rosen, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, and moderator Tiffany Cross, The Beat DC co-founder, managing editor and curator. Girls Who Code founder and CEO Reshma Saujani opened the event at the Library of Congress, and over 100 Girls Who Code students and alumni were present.

“We need to change policy to change the face of tech,” said Saujani. “We’re thrilled to have Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Sen. Jacky Rosen, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley here as champions of women and girls. Their insight into this issue is invaluable, as we consider legislative solutions to prepare girls for the highest-paying, fastest-growing jobs in the global economy.”

The panel discussion coincides with the release of the Girls Who Code report—“State of Girls in K-12 Computer Science Classrooms: Making The Case for Gender-Specific Education Policies.” The report is the first-of-its-kind to evaluate the impact of computer science access policies on the gender gap in K-12 classrooms. It indicates that, according to state data, existing computer science access policies have not increased the proportion of girls in computer science classrooms.

“Before I came to Congress, I worked as a computer programmer and a systems analyst. I witnessed wage discrimination and the difficulties that come with challenging gender stereotypes in the fields of science and tech,” said Senator Rosen. “Now, I sit on the Commerce and HELP Committees in the Senate, and I’m using my voice to increase access to STEM education for all, especially our young girls. I look forward to continue working with Girls Who Code to develop bipartisan legislation that ensures federal computer science programs effectively close the gender gap.”

“West Virginia students need to be prepared for a 21st century economy, and I think it’s particularly important for our girls and young women know all of the opportunities available to them through STEM. That’s why I sponsored the Building Blocks of STEM Act and am working to advance other efforts to encourage students—especially young girls— to pursue careers in STEM,” said Senator Capito. “I appreciate the work of Girls Who Code and am thrilled to be a part of the discussion today.”

“To truly address the gender gap in K-12 computer science, we must first understand the breadth of it,” said Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA). “And now, thanks to the Girls Who Code report, we’re starting to. In the coming years, it’s my hope that we can bring more girls from communities in Massachusetts and across the country into tech—starting in K-12.”

Key findings from the Girls Who Code report include:

  • In the states with policies to increase access to CS, average participation for girls in K-12 did not increase from 2016-17 to 2017-18. Interestingly, neither did participation overall.
  • In the eleven (11) states that had CS Standards in place during the 2017-18 school year and tracked data on girls’ participation, girls’ participation declined by .38 percent.
  • In the six (6) states that allocated funding for CS in the 2017-18 school year, and tracked data on girls’ participation, girls’ participation declined by .58 percent.
  • There is a relationship between the presence of Girls Who Code and the rate of girls’ participation in K-12 CS at the state level. In states with more girls served by Girls Who Code, CS classrooms were closer to parity. In states with lower concentrations of girls served by GWC, K-12 CS classrooms were further from parity.

Girls Who Code has a Policy Agenda with recommendations for lawmakers designed specifically to attract K-12th-grade girls to CS and retain them in the field all along the pipeline. The organization is actively working with state governments to pass legislation that aligns with that Policy Agenda.

In 2019, the organization passed legislation in both Washington State and Colorado: To see that Policy Agenda please visit: https://girlswhocode.com/our-values/

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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.