Lawmakers unveil 'Code Like a Girl Act' to close tech gender gap

Lawmakers unveil 'Code Like a Girl Act' to close tech gender gap
© Vegas PBS

Lawmakers are pushing legislation to encourage young girls to learn how to code and help close the tech industry's gender gap.

Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) on Thursday unveiled the "Code Like a Girl Act," which would fund programs that help young girls learn about computer science.

The bill has bipartisan backing and is co-sponsored by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).

ADVERTISEMENT

Rosen said it's important to get more women participating in the STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — workforce.

“Given the ever increasing importance of computer science in today’s economy, it’s critical we find ways to break down barriers and level the playing field for women everywhere,” Rosen said in a statement to The Hill.

The bill would establish two National Science Foundation grant programs to research how to better get girls aged 10 and younger to explore computer science in the classroom.

According to the Commerce Department, women only make up 24 percent of the STEM workforce. Boys are nearly twice as likely as girls to take computer science classes from kindergarten through the 12th grade.

“Despite the progress we’ve made, fewer than 1 in 5 computer science graduates are women,” Rosen said. “This disparity is depriving our country of talented minds that could be working on our most challenging problems.”

The bill is endorsed by the Association for Computing Machinery’s Council on Women in Computing (ACM-W), a group that works to help promote women in the computer sciences.

The group's chairwoman, Jodi Tims, hailed the bill's increased funding for research into how to close the gender gap.

“This research holds the potential to address the long-standing issue of the underrepresentation of women in computing and complements the efforts of the many organizations that focus on high school and post-secondary women," she said.

"We hope to see this legislation get bipartisan support in Congress."