An Early Start, Not Common Enough
I was lucky enough to have an early introduction to coding in fourth grade. I learned about it during a lesson where our goal was to put coding blocks together to move a character through a maze. I quickly noticed the opportunities coding allows for and wanted to learn more! Unfortunately, that chance wouldn’t come until high school. That’s when I was able to sign up for a class called “The Joy of Computing” where I learned the fundamentals of coding using “Snap!”-- a visual programming language.
The Joy of Computing quickly became my favorite class of the day, but it also introduced me to the lack of female representation in computer science. It seemed like a lot of my girlfriends weren't as interested in computer science because they had grown up not thinking about it as an option to pursue. While I had the benefit of being inspired to code at a young age, many of my classmates were never introduced to the mindset that computer science could be a career to pursue. This mindset makes its way to the top of the tech industry today, where women-- especially women of color-- are vastly underrepresented.
The Effect of Underrepresentation
A growing body of research has shown that the persistent underrepresentation of women and racial/ethnic minorities in scientific fields leads to problems such as disproportionately poor health outcomes. Technology and Computer Science are no exceptions to this rule. According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology, only 25% of adult women in the workforce hold computing roles. Of that group, only 3% are Black and 1% are Hispanic. Tech companies have run into many issues; Snapchat has apologized numerous times for offensive photo filters, various translation softwares have had issues of misgendering individuals, and facial recognition software has had trouble identifying different minority faces. These instances could have been avoided with a more diverse group of people at higher levels; As the world continues to rely more and more on technology to help with daily life, it bec