Google Launches $50 Million Initiative to Empower Girls to Code

Google has announced a three-year, $50 million commitment in support of Made with Code, a new initiative to inspire girls to learn to code.

Launched in partnership with several organizations, including the National Center for Women & Information Technology, the MIT Media Lab, and TechCrunch, the initiative aims to help girls see coding as a means to pursue their career dreams and connect them with mentors and other girls interested in computer science. The initiative includes Blockly-based coding projects such as designing a bracelet for 3D-printing, creating animated GIFs, and building beats for a music track; collaborations with Girls Inc. and Girl Scouts of the USA; and Google's commitment to support programs that encourage girls to study computer science. In addition, a pilot project with DonorsChoose.org will reward teachers who support girls who sign up for CS courses with Codecademy or Khan Academy, while a joint effort with the Science and Entertainment Exchange will seek to boost the number of female engineers depicted in television and film.

"The numbers hurt: Women constitute more than half of the professional workforce, but only a quarter of workforce in tech," said Lucy Sanders, CEO and co-founder of NCWIT. "It's a problem, bordering on a crisis."

The Made with Code website features videos of girls and women explaining how they use code to pursue their passions in fields ranging from fashion, music, and dance, to animation, cancer research, and human rights, as well as a resource directory that makes it easy for parents and girls to find information about local events, camps, classes, and clubs. According to a report from Google, exposure and parental encouragement during the pre-college years are critical factors in getting girls to consider computer science as a career option.

"Coding is a new literacy and it gives people the potential to create, innovate, and quite literally change the world," said YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki. "We've got to show all girls that computer science is an important part of their future and that it's a foundation to pursue their passions, no matter what field they want to enter."

"Google Launches Made with Code." Google Press Release 06/19/2014.