Women in the U.S. computing workforce will shrink in the next 10 years unless we take action now.
In 2015, there were 500,000 new computing jobs to be filled but fewer than 40,000 new computer science graduates. This shortage is a fundamental economic challenge for the U.S. economy and its global competitiveness.
Our research identifies the effectiveness of implementing a strategy focused on three clear stages of a girl’s education. We have used these insights to create a strategy that is precise, targeted and sequenced.
The sooner the right steps are taken, the bigger the uplift. Sixty-nine percent of positive growth will come from changing the path of the youngest girls.
SPARK girls’ interest. Show them how computing can be cool and fun, and that it‘s not just for boys.
At this age, girls who play computer games are four times more likely to go into computing or coding as adults than those who don’t. They’re less likely to see the subject as just for boys, to think boys are better at it than girls, or to think of computing as “geeky” rather than “cool.”
“When we were at middle school, there was this program called Scratch that we used, and it was for kids to learn how to code and that was really cool. I really liked it.”
High school girl, New York
SUSTAIN girls’ engagement. Large numbers of girls who were engaged in computing in junior high lose interest in high school and never come back to computing. Make sure they don’t fall into this “high school trap.”
In the impressionable teen years, we must pay attention to their peer group and make sure that girls have friends doing computing as well and are not isolated in classrooms dominated by boys. Teaching is incredibly important at this age. Seventy-three percent of high school girls who were interested in studying computing had a teacher who inspired them.
“Definitely [girls want] more clubs, after school programs. [We should be] making a connection between ladies of distinction and computing or coding, because a lot of the girls want to feel empowered.”
INSPIRE young women through the use of role models, retooled courses and summer immersion programs.
When college women realize they can put computing skills to work in almost any career, in all industries and sectors, they become much more open to computing as an option.
“My systems analysis professor was very helpful. At 27 she was teaching our class and also working in the field – so I thought that was very inspirational.”
Young worker, Atlanta
“Dramatically increasing the number of women in computing is critical to closing the computer science skills gap facing every business in today’s digital economy. Without action, we threaten U.S. innovation and competitiveness.”
Julie Sweet, Group Chief Executive, North America, Accenture
“Despite unprecedented attention and momentum behind the push for universal computer science education, the gender gap in computing is getting worse. The message is clear: a one-size-fits-all model won’t work. This report is a rallying cry to invest in programs and curriculum designed specifically for girls.”
Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO, Girls Who Code
“Current workforce projections are troubling and demand a new strategy to encourage more girls to pursue technology careers. We must inspire girls at every stage to believe that they can create the next big thing and help change the world in the process.”
Paul Daugherty, Chief Technology Officer, Accenture
“The solution starts with a strong foundation. We must prepare girls early to ensure they have the knowledge, skills and confidence to pursue computer science careers and prepare them to step into leadership positions.”
Roxanne Taylor, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, Accenture
“We have both an opportunity and obligation to use our collective voices to tap the potential of girls in technology and show them they belong in computing fields. Using our voice today opens doors for tomorrow—inspiring the next generation of women to not only participate in, but lead the new digital frontier.”
Ellyn Shook, Chief Leadership & Human Resources Officer, Accenture
The answer is all of us. It’s girls and young women, it’s schools, it’s businesses, it’s government, it’s not-for-profits. No single stakeholder can achieve this alone, and this work demands collaboration around a widely shared agenda.
Put simply, America needs more girls and young women in computing. It’s time to take the actions needed to make it happen. Together.