Female students taking the newly introduced Exploring Computer Science class at Etiwanda High were greatly outnumbered by male students, 32-4, according to the teacher of the new class, Dennis Thompson.
“I think there’s a big misconception with computer programming, that you need to be a rocket scientist to learn how to program,” Thompson said. According to a survey conducted by Fusion Media Network, women make up 17% of technical employees at Google, and women make up only 15% at Facebook.
“Girls are limiting themselves. Why wouldn’t they take that opportunity to get higher paying jobs?” Thompson said. Thompson said that female students can easily get jobs paying $70,000 a year with the skills taught in his course. According to Thompson, taking this course would provide many different job opportunities to women, as computer programmers are needed in multiple fields of work.
“Even if you’re not interested in working in the field of programming, knowing how to program and how to read code will give you an edge, people in my department ask me for help with their computers all the time,” Thompson said.
To help interest more female students in taking the course, Thompson has decided to incorporate a “Fashion Design” component to be taught alongside the “Game Design” portion. He said in the Fashion and Design component, students will use programming skills to put designs and patterns on to clothes.
Both components will be using basic scratch, a programming language that was developed at the Massachusetts Institution of Technology, which is used to interest students and younger people who want to start learning programming, according to Thompson.
Thompson said he believes the class will provide great opportunities for female and male students. Alongside the new class, Thompson is beginning a computer programming club. According to Thompson, the club will begin learning programming with scratch and will later begin teaching scratch to younger students at other schools.