Less than 10 percent of venture-backed startups today are run by women, which is obviously something we’d like to change. And the problem isn’t only affecting startups – only 14 percent of chief information officers at major corporations in the technology industry today are women. This number has remained static for 10 years.
In Cookeville, the Biz Foundry’s Tennessee Code Academy is tackling this issue head-on. Tennessee Code Academy has started a program called 100 Girls of Code to increase computer science interest among women. In an effort to expand this program throughout the Southeast, 100 Girls of Code raised more than its goal on Indiegogo. The funds raised will go towards workshops in eight states to teach 100 aspiring female technologists in each state.
100 Girls of Code first began hosting their workshops last summer in nine cities across Tennessee. The workshops, for girls ages 12 to 18, were led by women instructors and went over the basics of computer programing, website development and gaming development techniques. The workshops gave girls an opportunity to learn about these subjects, which are not commonly taught in public schools. The hope is for this program and others like it to help add to the 0.4 percent of female college freshmen across the country that intend upon majoring in computer science.
Tennessee Code Academy is partnering with Tennessee Technological University to provide scholarships for some of the 100 Girls of Code workshop participants. Martha Kosa, associate professor of computer science at TTU, is optimistic that this partnership will help expand the number of female students who choose computer science as their major.
100 Girls of Code is one of a few programs across the country trying to increase the mere 20 percent of females in the computing workforce today. The U.S. Labor Department has estimated that over the coming decade 1.4 million jobs will open up in the computer science field. Considering the average pay for those with a computer science degree is between $80,000 and $100,000, these programs could bring more gender equality to STEM fields and more salary equality overall.
For more information, read my recent Tennessean column.