The technology sector in our country continues to grow apace, adding jobs and producing some of the most exciting innovations in the American workforce. Women, though, are as underrepresented in the field as ever. If the sector and our economy as a whole are going to compete in the 21st century, we simply have to get more women involved.
Alongside some of the leading companies in the industry, we’re hosting Summer Immersion Programs in nine cities nationwide, providing intensive seven-week programs to 1,200 girls. These programs tell you everything you need to know about the impact women can have on the sector.
After just five weeks of training, the girls in these programs created fully functional apps that made the world a better place, from exposing the ugliness of unequal pay for equal work, to building a support system to classmates who are bullied in school.
Two new developments should provide an effective pathway for girls into the tech sector. The first is an alumni network for our graduates. The network will be a huge resource for girls who want to turn their experiences with our programming into a career.
The second exciting development is the “Hire Me” campaign, acknowledging the importance of a college-to-career pipeline for young women into this sector. More than 25 leading technology companies have pledged to share paid internships and other opportunities with alumni of these immersion programs. It’s important to salute these companies for doing their part to close the gender gap in technology. But there’s more work to be done.
I want to encourage every major technology company to sign the “Hire Me” pledge. Creating internship and job programs for young women will help defeat entrenched stereotypes about women’s role in computer science, dealing a blow to the “brogrammer” culture that persists in our society. But it will also provide these companies with something more tangible: a diversity of perspectives that will lead to true innovation.