At today’s Computer Science Education Week kickoff, the theme was women in coding. In the U.S., just 18 percent of computer science college graduates are women. Hence why tech leaders like Microsoft’s Peggy Johnson, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and YouTube’s Susan Wojcicki took to the stage at the College of San Mateo to discuss the importance of getting young girls involved in technology.
Wojcicki described how she was introduced to computer science by luck. As a history and literature major in college, Wojcicki decided to take a computer science class during her senior year.
“It was amazing to me that this one class really changed my life,” Wojcicki said. But it was by chance that she took that class, she said.
“In today’s world where technology is changing every single thing we do, it shouldn’t be about a matter of luck,” Wojcicki said.
Later in the morning, Sandberg noted how there is unequal access in the field of computer science. She referenced the statistic that just 15 percent of people majoring in computer science are black or Latinx.
“We also have to think about not just getting the usual suspects into this field but getting everyone into this field,” Sandberg said. “What we need is equal access to computer science education.”
Earlier today, Code.org announced $12 million in new funding to help improve access to computer science education. A number of states, school districts and organizations also announced new pledges and funding to increase computer science education initiatives.
Those who made the pledge include Florida Governor Rick Scott, who made a $15 million investment to increase opportunities for middle and high school students, and California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, who launched a Computer Science for California campaign to bring CS education to all students in California by 2025.
“What is core to being a technologist is that we believe that the future will be better than the past,” Sandberg said. “Not perfect. Not that technology will solve every problem. Not that technology doesn’t cause some of the problems,” but the belief that technology can lift people out of poverty and bring people closer together.