By Paula Bernier
Women, who are underrepresented in the tech sector, want and need good-paying and interesting jobs. Meanwhile, the automotive industry is going to require more skilled talent to write code for its vehicles, and that kind of talent is increasingly difficult to come by.
So Mary Barra – the CEO and chairman of General Motors, and the first woman to lead a car company – has joined forces with Girls Who Code to encourage young ladies to build their IT skills and learn about job opportunities in which they can use them in the automotive industry.
“We need to have a workforce that matches where the car industry is going,” Barra of GM told The Verge. “Tens of millions lines of codes are in a vehicle and it’s only increasing, and there’s an increasing gender gap. The number of women engineers is not growing.”
The GM-Girls Who Code effort involves the automotive giant providing a $250,000 grant to the non-profit group, which is in 42 states and provides free tech programs and as part of summer immersion opportunities. Girls Who Code says it wants to reach 100,000 girls and expose them to work the organization is doing with GM.
The group seems to be making an impact. Sixty-five percentage of Girls Who Code participants say they are considering a major or minor in computer science as a result of their experiences with the group. And 90 percent of Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program participants say they are planning to major or minor in computer science or a closely-related field.
That’s important, Girls Who Code notes, considering that although tech jobs are among the fastest growing in the country, the gender gap in computing has gotten worse since the 1980s. Part of the problem, the group says, is that there’s a big drop off of interest in computer science by girls between the ages of 13 and 17. As a result, by 2020, it’s expected that just 3 percent of the anticipated 1.4 million jobs to be available in computing-related fields will be filled by women.