The Digital Age, like the Industrial Age has exposed gaps in the skilled labor market, that if left to their own vices will effect a businesses’ bottom line. And those shortages need to be addressed before demand outmatches supply.
But while companies like Google are interested in funding initiatives for girl’s who code, not every girl is interested in coding.
In the ninety-four years since women were given the right to vote, there has been one female democratic vice-presidential candidate* (Ferraro 1984), there has been one female speaker of the House of Representatives (Pelosi, 2007); one female nominated for the Democratic Presidential Primary (Clinton, 2008) ; one female Vice Presidential Republican nominee (Palin, 2008); One female four-star U.S. General in the Army (Dunwoody, 2008); one female four-star General in the U.S. Air Force (Wolfenbarger, 2012); one Female four-star admiral and Vice Chief of Naval Operations (Howard, 2013). And we’ve yet to see a woman president.
The slow process of closing the gender gap in America is systemic. It has as much to do with status quo, as it has to do with nation building– that other job, of having babies. And just as not every girl is interested in coding; not every girl is interested in having babies. The truth is that finally, girls have a choice and it’s more than trying out for cheer-leading and not making the squad. It’s a real life choice, one that puts them on a track towards greatness; with real consequences and unmitigated outcomes.
Coding should be taught in the school system, as part of the core curriculum in classrooms across the country. So that all children, particularly girls can be exposed to it and perhaps discover a real interest, which a teacher can then nurture. Teaching our girls is different from teaching our boys, so it mustn’t be competitive.
But if we are going to allow companies to recruit our girls and teach our daughters coding; to essentially allow a business to restock the labor pool to their own specifications, shouldn’t we demand that it be done in good faith? And wouldn’t that include the closing of the gender wage gap that exists? And shouldn’t that include legislation?
I’m only asking, because history is gnawing at me. The legacy of businesses who shuttled and carried unskilled laborers across borders and over the seas. Who cheaply laid down railroad tracks and mined coal and fired the steel used to build skyscrapers. The un-named Chinese, German and Hungarian immigrants who helped to build this great nation, but who barely fill a chapter in its history books.
Not every girl will want to code, but we owe her the chance. Let it be in a classroom of her peers. In the end she may not become a coder, or a neurosurgeon or the conductor of a high-speed train; but society has a need to prepare her, to teach her and then to welcome her into the Digital Age.
*I neglected to include Ms. Geraldine Ferraro in the first posting. My gratitude and thanks go out to Dan for bringing the oversight to my attention. In addition to providing the link http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/geraldine-ferraro-dies-75-woman-vice-president-candidate-remembered/story?id=13228533