Google is investing $50 million in order to get women to code

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Just weeks after releasing its first diversity report and calling for more women to get into computer science, Google’s backing that up with a new effort aimed at getting more girls to code. Today the company announced a new program called Made with Code that includes a mix of coding projects, partnerships with youth organizations, and $50 million in funding Google says will help get more females involved in the field of computer science. Some of the early coding projects include a 3D printed bracelet, an animated GIF-maker, 2D avatar maker, music composer, and a selfie styler that lets you put various props over a photo. All of those are done through Google’s Blockly visual programming language, which the company introduced two years ago, and which can be found in other introductory code-training tools like Code.org. Google’s also partnering with nonprofit Girls Who Code, which runs summer coding courses.

Google has promised to do all it can to recruit more women into Silicon Valley, and now the company is putting its money where its PR is. On Thursday, it launched a $50 million initiative to teach young girls how to code. Just last month, Google announced that only 17% of its tech employees are women. The gender disparity is a dire issue for all tech companies. There will be 1.4 million computing jobs available in 2020, but only 400,000 computer-science graduates from U.S. universities to fill them. Part of the problem is that only 12% of computer-science degrees go to women, and in order for Silicon Valley to survive and thrive, it must be able to recruit more engineering talent from the other 50% of the population. Realizing the extent of the problem, Google is launching Made With Code, a website that includes coding projects, stories from female technology role models and resources for parents. The girl-focused initiative kicks off Thursday at a New York event for 150 high-school-age girls hosted by Mindy Kaling and Chelsea Clinton. “Coding is a fundamental skill that’s going to be a part of almost everything,” Megan Smith, VP of Google[x], tells TIME. “So for kids to really at a minimum just be able to express themselves in code and make things and feel confident, that would be important — no matter what their career is.”

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