Google Invests in Inspiring Girls to Seek Coding Careers
This is not the first time that Google has been involved in such initiatives. The company has invested $40 million in organizations like Code.org, Girls Who Code, NCWIT and Black Girls Code since 2010, according to Google. Several women entrepreneurs contacted by eWEEK said they applaud the new effort. Kelly Hoey, the co-founder and managing director of Women Innovate Mobile, a New York City-based mentorship-driven business accelerator that aims to help with early-stage investment in mobile-first female-led startup ventures, said in an email that the effort appears to be "committed to meeting the girls 'where there are' with projects focused on wearables and animation—the technology girls are enthusiastically consuming but may not ever imagined creating." Also key, wrote Hoey, is that Made with Code seeks to introduce technology to significant numbers of girls through organizations the girls already belong to and participate in. Hoey said she hopes that the program is truly an "active corporate commitment of resources and tools" that actually reaches girls, rather than just a framework that provides enthusiasm but no deep results. "Girls need role models in tech, and yes, we all love to be inspired, but right now, to get more girls in tech, we need more than mission-based enthusiasm. Less talk, more real action."Tracey Wellson-Rossman, the founder of Tech Girlz, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit group that works with 11- to 14-year-old girls to encourage them to look at careers in technology, said that while the project is a good one, it's important to remember that it's not just about coding when it comes to girls and the IT industry of the future. Instead, it's also about the fields of IT security, data centers, the cloud, hardware and much more, she said. "We are not doing a good job communicating to our girls why this is important," Wellson-Rossman said of society in general. "To focus only on coding and robotics, we are missing a large group of girls who could be interested" in pursuing a wider range of IT fields. "We hope that Google being this huge, forward-thinking company, that it is really taking a good look at the demographics that they are try to reach." One key for Google would be to also work closely with smaller, local groups across the nation that are already doing work like this to better coordinate efforts and spread the mantra of encouraging girls in technology, she said. "It would be great for them to take a look at some of the local groups and work and learn from what we've done already." Interestingly, Google in May 2014 published the results of its workforce diversity tallies, and the picture is not as bright as the search giant would like it to be—70 percent of Google workers are men, while only 30 percent are women. Some 61 percent of workers are white. Only 2 percent of Google's workers are Black, and only 3 percent are Hispanic. Some 30 percent of Google workers are of Asian descent.
Telle Whitney, the CEO of the Anita Borg Institute, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based group that works to encourage and guide women in computing and technology innovation, said that her group is "very excited and supportive about Google's announcement and Google's major investment in increasing the pipeline. They are building on well-respected programs and working with great organizations. We continue to believe that companies need to create environments where women participate, thrive and innovate. Increasing the pipeline is only part of the overall solution."