Google hosts all-girl coding party

June 20, 2014: 4:06 PM ET
google made with code
Actress and producer Mindy Kaling was the host at an event geared toward getting more young girls interested in tech.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

Google is tackling the gender imbalance at its company -- and the entire tech industry -- head on with its new Made With Code initiative.

Made With Code aims to address what, according to Google's own research, are the top two reasons women don't get into computer science -- exposure and encouragement.

Actress and producer Mindy Kaling hosted the Made With Code launch event for the initiative in New York on Thursday night, where supporter Chelsea Clinton was also among the 150 in attendance. Clinton is Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation, whose No Ceilings project works to further the full participation of women and girls in all parts of society.

"It was really powerful for the girls in the room, some of whom have never coded, to see the connection between art, music, dance -- the things they love -- and coding," said Reshma Saujani, founder & CEO of Girls Who Code, a partner of the Made With Code initiative.

Girls Who Code places high school juniors and seniors in coding classes within the walls of major private sector corporations like Google (GOOGL, Tech30), Twitter (TWTR, Tech30), eBay (EBAY, Tech30) and others.

The Made With Code website is a hub for interactive coding projects, video profiles of female coders merging their tech skills with their other interests, and a directory for coding classes, camps and opportunities from partner organizations.

Video profiles on the site include women and girls working in music engineering, studying human robot interactions and at the intersection of fashion and technology.

Related: Black girls take on tech's diversity woes

For the initiative, Google recruited partners and supporters including Girls Inc., Girl Scouts of the USA, MIT Media Lab, National Center for Women & Information Technology, Seventeen magazine, and the influential industry news site TechCrunch.

Black girls code for social change

Google has also pledged $50 million to support nonprofits working to teach girls computer science.

Just a few weeks ago Google released a report revealing a severe gender gap within its own ranks. Only 30% of Googlers are women, with just 17% women on their tech teams. This week, Yahoo (YAHOF) followed suit by releasing numbers on their own staff. Despite having Marissa Mayer as CEO, Yahoo is only 15% female on the tech side of its business.

Related: Google: Overwhelmingly white and male

The numbers illustrate the industry's serious gender gap. In the United States, women make up only 28% of the science and engineering workforce, according to the National Science Foundation.

"We're building a movement here," said Saujani. "We're trying to reach millions of girls and teach them to code. We have a lot of work to do. This is just the beginning."


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