By: Steph Schroeder
The US Department of Labor estimates that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer specialist jobs open and not enough people to fill them. Today, men outnumber women 7 to 3 in the tech industry. As Sheryl Sandberg would say, it’s time to “lean in” so that’s exactly what neteffects is doing! And we’re not alone.
Girls Who Code, an organization intent on closing that gender gap, guestimates that about 30% of those exposed to computer science will study and work in that field. This means that roughly 4.6 million adolescent girls will need to have some type of introduction to coding in order to reach gender parity by 2020. Girls Who Code is making it their business to reach 25% of those girls from 6th to 12th grade and make it possible to fulfill their coding dreams and get them working in challenging IT jobs.
Neteffects has seen many programs for high school students, but we’re going a step further. By reaching girls in middle school, we are able to pique their interest in the subject so that they may pursue their passion for coding throughout their high school careers and into college. We have committed to investing in our community and the next generation of leaders. Neteffects is building a LEGO Robotics Lab in the brand new Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls, a public charter girls school in St. Louis, MO.
What could be better than learning how to engineer and code through play? Hawthorn is devoting the space and we are designing the aesthetics and providing them with all the equipment and entry fee’s necessary for success–including helping them find the mentors necessary to run the program and set it in motion.
As long-time supporters and contributors to LEGO FLL, we have seen the value of the hands-on lab experience and the glory of actually creating something that works because you told it to! In fact, my two daughters competed for four years in the LEGO FLL program. They were fascinated by the challenge to create and code, all while having fun in a team environment. Their team was invited to the world competition in Taiwan through their affiliation with LEGO FFL. It was an experience that they will never forget. We want that level of exploration and development for all girls that want it, too.
If you’re finding all of this as fascinating as we are, and you know a young lady who may be ready to take one of those jobs in 2020 (or sooner), take a look at LaunchCode’s CoderGirl workshop. It’s a free, all-women’s coding group open to women of any age, background, or skill-level.
We urge you to lean in yourself. Join us in being part of a stronger economy through education and technology. Become a mentor, volunteer, or simply spread the word about these amazing opportunities in your community. It is incredibly rewarding.