One of my personal educational regrets is that I never took a computer programming course. So I really enjoyed reporting this Slate piece on what schools and parents can do to hook girls early on the kind of "computational thinking" that can help them succeed in high-tech careers. Currently, women hold fewer than one-third of American computer science jobs.
The effects of this gender gap reach far beyond whether women are building video games or coding Web apps alongside men (and making technology female-friendly—remember the Siri/abortion flap? Or the more recent dust-up over Asus’ leering tweet?). Over the past 10 years, three times as many jobs have been created in STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and math—than in non-STEM fields, and STEM workers have been far less likely to experience unemployment. Women who work in STEM also earn more than other female workers: an average of $31.11 an hour, compared with $19.26 for non-STEM women. The wage gap between the genders is also smaller in STEM fields, just 14 percent, compared with the 21 percent difference between men’s and women’s earning powers in the rest of the workforce.
Economists expect those trends to continue over the coming decade. And if American women can’t step up to meet the growing demand, our foreign competitors will. Brazil, India, and Malaysia are among the rising powers that have much more successfully prepared girls to enter computer science.
Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, calls the fight to attract girls and young women to high-tech careers "our generation’s major frontier for equal outcomes for women." And Sandberg has a counterintuitive suggestion for how to close that gap: “Let your daughters play video games. Encourage your daughters to play video games!” she told me in an interview last fall.