Tech firms are overwhelming male — Yahoo on Tuesday released a report showing 62 percent of its global employees are men. At Google, about 70 percent of the roughly 44,000 people it employs throughout the world are men. This year, the search giant commissioned a nationwide study to find out why so few women pursue technology careers, asking 1,600 people about whether they were encouraged to study computer sciences and had opportunities to learn to code.
Their findings, shared with the AP this week in advance of public release: Girls have little exposure to technology and computer sciences. That doesn't mean they're not interested, however. If parents, friends and teachers encourage their daughters to pursue computer sciences, schools offer more courses and more role models step forward, the field can be leveled.
But to capture girls, it's got to be fun.
That's the plan for a "Made With Code" kick-off event in New York Thursday for 150 girls, where indie rockers Icona Pop will perform and coders will demo how they make everything from animated movies to designer fabrics with software. Actress Mindy Kaling, who is the event's master of ceremonies, said she fights gender bias in Hollywood, but when a techie friend told her about Silicon Valley's gender gap "it was staggering."
"Just as television and movies need to reflect their audience, I think it's important that people who create technology reflect the diversity of people who use them," she said.
Chelsea Clinton, who is representing the Clinton Foundation at Thursday's event, said she got her own first computer in 1987 from Santa Claus.
"Ultimately computer science is helping to create the future," she said. "So when we think about the future, we know we need to be doing more in this country and around the world to ensure that girls and women see computer sciences as real, viable options for them."
Entrepreneur Dez White wasn't necessarily pursuing a tech career when she asked a patron at her family's restaurant to teach her to write software. She just had an idea for an app and wanted to make it.
"It was very hard for me to get my head around it," White said. "I didn't go to Stanford for code."
Today, she hires coders for her firm Goinvis, which sells privacy apps that allows users to send texts that self-destruct at a set time and emails that disappear from an inbox after they're opened.
But in addition to her day job, as a successful female African-American entrepreneur, she realizes she needs to be a mentor as well.
"I think young women don't even realize computer sciences are an option. It's not laid out like nursing and social work," she said.
Next year, she's planning to organize a technology retreat for high school girls, and she tries to hire women for her growing company.
"It's hard. We have to really look. Their numbers are very, very slim," she said.