When you think of the stereotypical computer technician what usually comes to mind? If you’re like me, you’re probably imagining some sort of nerdy Bill Gates look alike with wire-rimmed-glasses and a meager waistline. In today’s world, people rarely seem to associate women with these types of jobs. In fact, if you take the time to do a Google Images search for “computer technician” you won’t find a single picture of a female.
This isn’t exactly a coincidence, considering that women make up just 17% of chemical engineers and 22% of environmental scientists. And it’s really a shame, because some of these scientific fields could definitely benefit from the touch of a lady!
So that is where Google’s campaign “Made with Code” comes in. This is a $50 million initiative aimed at recruiting more women to work as computer coders. Also, I am particularly psyched for this campaign, considering that my Queen B, Mindy Kaling, happens to be one of the spokespeople!
Check out the Made with Code website to get access to links about inspirational female mentors and introductory coding projects.
The gender gap in computing is particularly puzzling, considering that the number of women that majored in computer-science dropped from 37% in 1984 to 12% today. Many people believe that this has to do with girls today being raised to either perceive that they aren’t as good at the sciences as boys, or that the sciences aren’t a very romantic career path. So now, in an effort to engage girls with the sciences at an early age, many toy companies are attempting to make toys that romanticize a career in science.
Here are just a few:
1. Lego Research Institute
In response to being told off by a seven-year-old girl for not having girl figures who have jobs or go on adventures (you go girl!), LEGO came out with a Research Institute series, which will feature three female scientists, including an astronomer with a telescope, paleontologist with a dinosaur skeleton and a chemist with lab equipment set. The series comes from the LEGO ideassite, where fans submit their own designs. LEGO fan Ellen Kooikman modeled the set after herself a geochemist.
2. Entrepreneur Barbie
Hide yo kids, hide yo wife, cause Entrepreneur Barbie is snatching all the jobs up! Barbie is of course, in a pink dress with glam accessories, (and featured in different multicultural variations) but now armed with a smartphone tablet and briefcase. Barbie even has her own linkedln page and Times Square billboard as part of the marketing campaign with the slogan “if you can dream it you can be it.”
3. Goldie Blox
Goldie Blox toys is declaring a “war on pink”with a small collection of engineering toys packaged in a “sequin-free yellow.” The toys have been released in conjunction with a viral video ad campaign encouraging girls to exchange pink princess-y stuff for the building blocks. --While I appreciate the intention of the add, I have a problem with it’s disparagement of “pink,” the quintessential color of girlhood. By trying to get girls to transcend their “girl box,” we should not simultaneously shame those who identify with stereotypically girly things. The message shouldn’t be “down with pink,” because that implies that all girls that do like the color pink and princesses are less than. Instead of telling girls that those who play with building blocks are superior to those who play with dolls, the ad should be about encouraging girls to be themselves and not feel pressured to be a certain way because they think they should, or be dissuaded from a certain field because it isn’t considered “girly.”
I never had much confidence in myself in regard to the maths and sciences while growing up. If things got too difficult, I’d rationalize my lacking performance by convincing myself that my brain was simply not wired that way. Ever since learning about this gender disparity, I’ve wondered whether growing up in a different kind of environment would have changed the way I viewed the science/math fields. Hey, maybe I’d be rolling in green at Google instead of being a penniless journalist!
But seriously, it’s ridiculous that an entire field can be comprised of only half the population! We need to start getting women out into the science world- and these toys are certainly a great start!