As Google announced on their blog this week, they’ve unveiled a new website, Made With Code in an effort to expose girls to coding and technology. The project comes with a 50 million dollar commitment by Google over the next three years to support programs to encourage more women to enter the computer science fields.
Google has partnered with Chelsea Clinton, Mindy Kaling, MIT Media Lab, Girl Scouts of the USA, Girls Inc., Girls Who Code, and the National Center for Women and Information Technology. TechCruch is also affiliated as a media partner, according to their website.
The website launch comes on the heels of Google’s first public diversity report, which found that 70% of Google’s staff is male, with 83% of the tech positions and 79% of the leadership positions at Google staffed by men.
Google is not alone in their lack of diversity. Silicon Valley has faced scrutiny from news outlets and rights groups for years in an attempt to promote open disclosure of their employment practices compared to other industries. Editorials and blogs also cover the issue extensively. It appears that Google is taking the problem seriously by not just publicly releasing their report but also with community outreach. Made With Code should be a good step towards ensuring diversity for future generations of Americans.
It’s a bigger problem than most realize. According to Girls Who Code, in their Why It Matters section, while 74% of middle-school girls express interest in the STEM fields, only 0.3% of high school girls choose Computer Science as their major when entering college.
Google’s Made With Code will join its new Scholarship program, as well as the other initiatives they’ve been funding such as Code.org, Black Girls Code, and Technovation. The new initiative will also be used to back efforts at Khan Academy, Codeacademy, and Donorschoose.org, as well as the National Center for Women and Information Technology.
For now, however, Made With Code is live and ready to use. There isn’t much on it so far, but users are exposed to a simple programming editor called Blockly which seems to be both easy to work with as well as exportable to other languages. There are more projects and information on the Google site for Blockly.
I’ve done the first exercise – making a 3D printed bracelet. It was an extremely user-friendly interface and I was able to order an actual version of my customized bracelet for free through a collaborator, Shapeways. If you’re going to do this project with your children, know that they’re going to ask your child’s personal details (name, address, email address) to ship the bracelet, if your child wants a copy of what they made.
There are more projects and information for parents and educators on the Made With Code Resources page, and more ways to stay involved on their Community page. The Events page lists local resources but seems pretty bare, which might be due to the focus on classes available to children. When I looked up Detroit, knowing what’s available in the area, there was a group 40 minutes away and a group 2.5 hours and one state away. Still, educators and groups can add their information to the site so hopefully the list of resources will grow as interest spreads.
In the meantime, if you’re a woman who wants to learn how to code, or a mom trying to keep up with her son or daughter, you might want to see if Girl Develop It has a chapter in your area. It’s never too late to learn a new skill.