Harvey Mudd College students Ellen Seidel and Christine Chen work on a summer research project in computer science. Photo: Harvey Mudd College
By Laura Sydell, NPR
A Google engineer who got fired over a controversial memo that criticized the company’s diversity policies said that there might be biological reasons there are fewer women engineers. But top computer science schools have proven that a few cultural changes can increase the number of women in the field. In 2006, only about 10 percent of computer science majors at Harvey Mudd College were women. That’s pretty low since Harvey Mudd is a school for students who are interested in science, math and technology.
Alexa Cafe and Code Like a Girl teach girls the basics of game design and encourage interest in technology so they can create games and help to diversify the heavily male-dominated gaming industry. Even though many girls love playing video and computer games, the subject matter and design of popular games almost always aim for the interests of a male audience. Part of that lies in who makes the games. Women made up only 11 percent of computer game designers in 2013, and just three percent of programmers. “We’re trying to create that environment to say, hey, you could be the world’s best coder,” said Code Like a Girl instructor Claudia Ortiz.